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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Convicted Wall Street Occupier Back in Court

MANHATTAN (CN) - Interfering with police questioning was "obnoxious" but not criminal, an attorney said Thursday, hoping to save Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan from her second conviction this year.

This time McMillan, 25, stands accused of interfering with the questioning by a pair of plain-clothed officers of a couple suspected of entering the subway without paying.

An eight-person jury - five women and three men - is expected to begin deliberations Friday.

The trial in Manhattan Criminal Court concerns McMillan's actions on the night of Dec. 7, 2013. At the time, McMillan was awaiting trial on her 2012 arrest for assaulting a different New York City police officer who was following orders to clear Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street activists.

During the 2013 subway incident, a pair of plain-clothed officers - Brian Rothermel and Luis Castillo - were talking to a couple accused of entering an L train station through an opened emergency door that a subway worker had previously entered.

Assistant District Attorney Leah Saxtein said McMillan advised the couple against cooperating with the officers. She then grabbed the hand of the male suspect to shake his identification loose, and tried to prevent officers from escorting the couple to the police precinct, the prosecutor added.

After falsely proclaiming to be an attorney, McMillan allegedly repeatedly yanked on the doors of the precinct and demanded to be let in.

"Her intent was to prevent the officers from doing their job," Saxtein told the jury Thursday. "She knew from the get-go that these were cops. She had no business being in that situation."

But Martin Stolar - the same attorney who unsuccessfully defended McMillan against felony cop-assault case in May in the same court - said there were "too many contradictions in the testimony" for the jury to find her guilty of a misdemeanor now.

McMillan was merely giving the couple "legal advice," not trying to stop police from conducting business, Stolar said.

"Being annoying, being obnoxious, being disturbing, using loud language is not yet a crime," he told the jury. 'We have not yet criminalized being loud and obnoxious and annoying."

Stolar also pointed out that McMillan didn't pose a threat to the two large police officers, and that she clearly did not successfully intervene because the couple was ultimately taken to the precinct.

"The process went on as it always does," he said, calling the charges against McMillan "fantastical."

He also urged the jury to act as the "conscious of the community," adding: "The 10 Commandments don't say, 'Don't obstruct governmental administration.'"

"The last word is yours," Stolar said. 'Actually, the last two words," implying that they should reach a not-guilty verdict.

But Saxtein said McMillian was more than just "annoying" or "obnoxious."

"She took it too far, and her conduct constitutes a crime," the prosecutor said.

"She knew what she was doing," Saxtein added.

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