Monday, Jul 28, 2014 10:35 pm est

Trial of Occupy protester approaches

Posted on February 18, 2014 | by Rahul Krishnamoorthy

After nearly two years of delays, the high-profile trial of Occupy supporter Cecily McMillan is finally going to court.

McMillan, a graduate student at the New School and organizer for the Democratic Socialists of America, was arrested in Zuccotti Park by the New York Police Department on March 17, 2012, during a protest marking the six-month anniversary of the Occupy Movement.

The prosecution alleges that McMillan assaulted a plainclothes NYPD officer with an elbow to the face in the course of the arrest, having charged her with assault in the second degree, a Class D Felony in the state of New York. This classification carries a maximum sentence of seven years jail time. The New York District Attorney is pursuing this maximum sentence.

McMillan’s defense, headed by criminal defense attorney Martin Stolar, alleges that the assault was a clear case of self-defense.

“She is accused of intentionally assaulting the police officer in order to prevent him from performing his duties,” Stolar said. “There is no question that she hit him. The question is ‘How come?’ and ‘Why did she hit him?’”

The question of why McMillan reacted in a manner that can be considered assault is at the crux of this case. Videos and photos of McMillan allegedly being sexually assaulted and her subsequent brutalization and neglect by NYPD officers while she underwent a protracted seizure went viral after her arrest.

“She felt someone behind her grab her right breast and lift her up,” Stolar said. “And that’s when she reacted, startled.”

Gallatin senior Caitlin Brimmer has rallied behind McMillan following the allegations of the nature of the supposed abuse and subsequent criminal trial.

“Cecily is the prime example of the tactics used by the NYPD during Occupy,” Brimmer said. “Sexual assault was an often-employed tactic for arrests because it is a way to make people, especially women, feel vulnerable and in turn easier to manhandle and arrest.”

Gallatin sophomore Lucy Parks, who has attended various Occupy protests, said she thinks the conduct of the NYPD is appalling.

“During those protests I witnessed a great deal of police brutality, including extensive beatings,” Parks said. “I think that the NYPD handled Occupy very poorly and the fact that they’ve been able to more or less get away with it is indicative of the fact that dissent in this country is no longer a civil right.”

McMillan’s trial has been rescheduled for March 3 and will be open to the public.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 18 print edition. Rahul Krishnamoorthy is a contributing writer. Email him at 


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.