I Went From Grad School to Prison
As Told to Abigail Pesta
August 12, 2014
This past spring, Cecily McMillan rode a bus across a bridge to Rikers Island, home of the notorious New York City jail. When the Occupy Wall Street activist was released nearly two months later, she had left her old self behind.
I didn’t cry my first night in jail.
By the time I got through the 12 hours of intake “” the lines, the fingerprints, the strip search “” it was 4 a.m. In a dorm with 50 women, I lay on a cot smaller than a twin bed, with a mattress so thin, I could feel the cold metal beneath my back.
I didn’t feel much of anything emotionally, except a vague sense of resolution. At least I knew my fate now. I was a convicted felon.
I had spent two years awaiting a trial, accused of assaulting a policeman at an Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City in March 2012. As I remember it, the officer surprised me from behind, grabbing my right breast so forcefully, he lifted me off the ground. In that moment, my elbow met his face. Continue reading “Cecily McMillan’s Awakening”