Theater of Justice: Courtrooms Are Violent Stages Where ‘Justice’ Is Rarely Found
Last week, I sketched an evidentiary hearing for a woman named Cecily McMillan.
Two years ago, I’d seen Cecily convulse in handcuffs as the police shut down an Occupy Wall Street protest. Cecily was an organizer. A plain-clothes cop had grabbed her breast from behind, hard enough to leave a bruise shaped like his handprint. Instinctively, she elbowed him. Most women would do the same if a man grabbed them from behind.
The cops beat Cecily till they broke her ribs. As she had a seizure on the pavement, the crowd screamed for the police to call 911. The police just watched.
Two years later, Cecily is charged with assaulting an officer. She faces seven years in prison.
In that fake-wood courtroom in lower Manhattan, the judge told Cecily’s lawyer the fact that her arresting officer had beaten up other people was not relevant to her case. His records would be sealed. Afterward, addressing her supporters, Cecily tried to hide the tremor in her voice.
Courtrooms are a violent theater. The violence happens off-scene: in Rikers Island where a homeless man recently baked to death; in the shackles and beatings and the years far from everything you love. But the courtroom itself is the performative space, the stage where the best story triumphs, and where all parties, except (usually) the defendant, are just playing parts.
Gerald Koch Hasn’t Been Charged with a Crime, but He’s in Jail Anyway
A New York anarchist has been jailed for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury about his political beliefs, his friends, and the legal support he provided to Occupy Wall Street.
Gerald “Jerry” Koch, 24, was subpoenaed before a grand jury that is believed to be investigating the 2008 explosion outside a military recruitment center in Times Square. The blast damaged the front door of the center and injured no one, but the FBI began a “terrorism” investigation of local anarchists.
Koch isn’t accused of this crime—or any other crime. Prosecutors told his lawyers that they think he was at a bar in 2008 or 2009, after the bombing, and that someone else at the bar knew about another person who was involved. Koch was subpoenaed to a grand jury in 2009—when he was only 19—and publicly stated that he didn’t know anything about it and wouldn’t cooperate.
On May 21, he appeared before the grand jury again, refused to answer any questions, and remained silent the entire time. More than a hundred supporters yelled out to him as he was taken to jail.
"By the time you read this," Koch said in a statement released after the hearing, "I will be in the custody of the United States government for continuing my refusal to cooperate with a federal grand jury. This is the right thing to do."
Just reminding you that we’re going to be live-streaming the May Day march in NYC all night (or until our editor loses his voice/gets arrested/takes a molotov cocktail to the head).
(Source: Vice Magazine)
Today at 7:30 AM, the OWS crew met up at the giant red cube across the street from Zuccotti for a day of action against those crooked bastards at Goldman Sachs. It was a day of “squidding,” which I learned means “fighting back for justice.”
The group marched to Goldman Sachs and at their arrival held a press confrence to “tell Goldman sacks how much they suck.” While crossing The West Side Highway, one man laid down in the middle of the street. It was one of the most badass things I have ever seen. He literally deadweighted himself until the cops carried him off, even they had a laugh and didn’t even arrest him. They dropped him onto the sidewalk.
Many came dressed in squid costumes. One group brought a giant puppet squid they moved through the air all day, until, according to one of them, “These motherfuckers took my giant squid, ripped it up, and threw it away.” I think by “those motherfuckers” he meant cops.
At the second stop of the day, the World Financial Center, riot police literally came running at high speed from out of the indoor center and began grabbing up everyone in site. All three of the official live streamers were arrested within minutes. The cops targeted just about anyone with a camera, probably because they didn’t want their pictures taken while they were beating the shit out of protestors. I ran around the block and somehow got into the World Financial Center. Feeling like a squid out of water (no pun intended), not knowing whether I would be arrested for being around that many cops, I awkwardly snapped a few photos of them and then was kicked out. Outside it was a very sad sight. Only about ten protestors remained and some mentioned that it had made them cry. I have never witnessed a more literally silent and depressing moment at Occupy.
We dressed some male models in nice suits and took them to Occupy Wall Street. It went okay.