Interview: Activist Cecily McMillan

| 7/28/2014 4:30:00 PM


Utne Reader recently spoke with 25-year old activist Cecily McMillan, who was released from jail earlier this month after being convicted of assaulting a police officer at a 2012 protest.

On March 17, 2012, hundreds of people gathered in Zuccotti Park, the epicenter of Occupy Wall Street, to celebrate the six-month anniversary of the movement. That evening, the jubilant mood turned angry as the NYPD ordered the park cleared and began arresting people. One of those arrested was Cecily McMillan. She was charged with assaulting a police officer and was convicted this May. McMillan, now 25, served 58 days at Rikers, the main New York City jail. During her incarceration, she got to know many of the women there and was also visited by Pussy Riot. A petition to end human rights abuses at Rikers can be found here.

During the trial, it was emphasized that you’re more of a reformer. Do you still believe that this line of activism is the best way to create change?

That’s a really complicated question. A lot of people would like to just boil this down to an either or scenario. In terms of my own personal politics, what would I like to see? I would like to see prisons be abolished completely. What we need in this country is a true rehabilitative process – food sources, daycare, job programs, domestic abuse programs, drug rehabilitation. You want to create jobs, keep people out of jail, you want to see citizens flourish to their fullest capacity which to me sounds like democracy, you have to get rid of prisons. So is that revolution over reform? The discussion is there.

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