An Elbow To The Face
What should a rational observer think about Cecily McMillan?
She’s the Occupy Wall Street protester who was convicted yesterday of second degree assault on a police officer during a scuffle at Zuccotti Park in NYC in March 2012. McMillan — there is no doubt — clocked the cop square in the face with her elbow as she was being run in during the disturbance. Numerous people, apparently all allies of hers, shot video of the clocking. In fact, her defense team presented one of those videos during her trial.
A trial, by the way, that lasted four weeks. Seems like an inordinate amount of time to spend on a simple slugging case but this whole incident is far from simple. McMillan has become a face of what could be a revolutionary movement. Cops, prosecutors, and public officials don’t brush such folks off lightly. Not in this holy land, nor in Russia, China, India, or Thailand.
As such, the entire arsenal of New York City’s justice system, seemingly, was aimed at her. Cops are clocked all the time in bar fights and domestic disturbances. Generally, cops take care of such transgressions in their own inimitable way. Remember the old comic strip Beetle Bailey? The Sarge used to pummel Beetle now and again, resulting in this:
Mort Walker/King Features Syndicate
That’s what cops usually do to guys whose knuckles come uncomfortably close to their pretty faces. It’s never wise to tap, brush, shove, or otherwise cause physical impact upon the body of a man wearing a uniform. Especially if he outranks you. And on the streets, the cops always outrank you. Their guns and badges trump any Constitutional subtleties.
For her part, McMillan says the cop she clocked had grabbed her breast, causing her pain and injury. She struck him, she says, in a defensive reaction. The numerous videos don’t show the cop in question actually doing that, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. I’ve known too many cops in my time to be burdened by any fairy tale that they all are upstanding, wholesome sweethearts.
During the trial, McMillan’s lawyers showed the jury this photo:
Note the trauma and bruising on her right breast. The prosecutor in McMillan’s trial told the jury that McMillan had injured herself after her arrest just so she could make a specious allegation against the officer.
That’s possible. Then again, that line of reasoning sounds suspiciously close to a rapist’s defense that his victim had created her story out of thin air.
And I’ve known too many prosecutors to be burdened by the fairy tale that they all are devoted to the sacred truth.
Cops and prosecutors work together all the time. They need each other in order to make cases stick. They are allies in our system of justice. It’s not unreasonable to assume they would, on occasion, attempt to coordinate stories that would protect each other from certain accusations.
That said, revolutionary and lesser protest movements attract extremists ranging from drama queens to the odd homicidal maniac. I’m on the side of the OWS gang, sure, but that doesn’t mean I’d be happy sitting down to dinner or having a beer with each and every one of them.
Even the sainted civil rights and anti-war protest movements of the 1960s and early ’70s were peopled by some number of folks who would scare the bejesus out of a mental institution warden.
It’s as likely that Cecily McMillan made up her story as it is that the cop had squished her breast. And even if he did squish her breast, does that excuse her slugging him, under the law?
OWS supporters are screaming to high heaven that this is a great miscarriage of justice. Proof, some say, that this nation is now a police state. They fail to realize that this charge and this verdict would just as likely have happened 20 years ago, 40 years ago or even a hundred years ago, given the same set of circs.
McMillan is being held without bail until her sentencing on May 19th. That’s harsh. But that’s what you get when you scare cops and prosecutors — and the men who control the nation’s wealth.
So, what can a rational observer conclude about her case? Nothing really, not just yet.
And that’s a stance very few people take.
The place to fight the police is in court not in the street. When they tell you to move, move.