Hundreds of people gathered in Union Square on Sunday, May 18th, in support of and solidarity with Cecily McMilan, the Occupy Wall Street protester who was recently found guilt of assaulting a police officer for protecting herself when a police officer sexually assaulted her. Cecily is due to be sentenced on May 19th, facing 2-7 years. Supporters in Union Square demanded with chants ‘No justice no peace! / Cecily must be released!’
The Rude Mechanical Orchestra played a series of songs and led chants, before the People’s Court used actual testimony from the court proceedings, as well as information that was disallowed by the judge, to show how clearly innocent Cecily was, and therefore deserves no jail sentence at all. Chants of ‘Innocent! Innocent! Innocent!’
Cecily’s caretaker spoke of how ‘being a mother is political,’ thanked Occupy and everyone assembled for standing with Cecily, and reminded us that ‘a revolution starts in your own home, in your own family, in your bed, in your heart.’
The event as organized showed the kind of intersectionality and solidarity necessary to build movements. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network sent out the event to their supporters and tabled; Copwatch Patrol Unit (CPU) was also there to speak reminding us to ‘continue to fight for justice’ for all abused by police brutality; as well as a member of Black Veterans For Social Justice who said ‘We are calling for Cecily to be released tomorrow on Malcolm X’s birthday!’
Chants of ‘Our passion for freedom / is stronger than their prisons!’ Then chants of ‘No justice no peace! / Cecily must be released!’ mixed with singing ‘Which side are you on? Which side are you on?’
Afterwards anyone from the crowd was encouraged to speak out about their experiences with the criminal injustice system, the prison system, and with police brutality.
Nearby supporters of the Zapatistas had organized their own rally in support of Zapatistas in Chiapas, and people elsewhere in Mexico, who are being run off their lands, kidnapped, and murdered by drug traffickers and para-militaries while the Mexican government turns a blind eye and deaf ear. The McMilan organizers asked the Zapatistas to come speak out to the crowd assembled in support of Cecily, and two Zapatista women spoke of what was happening in Mexico, and sang a short Zapatista song.
Cecily’s letter from prison in Rikers, read by a supporter, quoted Eugene Debs: ‘While there is a soul in prison I am not free.’ Which side are you on?