An Occupy Wall Street activist has been sentenced to three months in prison for assaulting a New York police officer.
Cecily McMillan, a 25-year-old graduate student, will serve the 90 days in New York’s Riker’s Island, followed by community service and five years of probation, Judge Ronald Zweibel announced in Manhattan Monday.
“A civilized society must not allow an assault to be committed under the guise of civil disobedience,” Zweibel said, according to The Guardian. McMillan was found guilty of felony assault earlier this month for elbowing NYPD officer Officer Grantley Bovell in the face.
McMillan does not deny hitting the officer, but in her telling of the incident, Bovell grabbed her breast from behind, causing her to involuntarily react.
Her legal team said during a press conference Monday that they filed an appeal that morning to overturn the felony conviction on her criminal record.
McMillan had faced a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, and the customary minimum sentence for felony assault is two years. But after the 12-person jury unanimously reached a verdict, nine jurors said they later had a change of heart once able to research details of the case. In a rare move, the group penned a letter to Zweibel, urging him to not send McMillan to prison.
“We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” they wrote in the letter, according to The Guardian. “We would ask the court to consider probation with community service.”
McMillan was denied bail and has already served time at Rikers, which will count toward her 90-day sentence. In the time since her guilty verdict, she saw a groundswell of support in calls for leniency on her sentencing. Two members of the Russian punk activist group Pussy Riot both visited McMillan at Rikers and wrote to the judge to press the issue. Meanwhile, a petition delivered to Zweibel and District Attorney Cyrus Vance garnered thousands of signatures asking “Justice for Cecily” and that she not be sent to prison.
McMillan’s supporters saw her trial as a marker for the overzealous police activity on display during the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 and 2012. Police made more than 2,600 arrests over the course of the protest.
Meredith Clark contributed to this report