#ResistRikers Saturday November 8

We demand an end to the incarceration of youth and mentally-ill people, and we want a community review board to handle the grievances of people at Rikers.

Bring your voice, your banners, your friends and your family. All are invited and encouraged to speak out about their experiences. We stand with the people incarcerated at Rikers, we are their friends and their families, we will not forget them.

Meet outside the Rikers sign at the corner of 19th Av & Hazen St, the best way to get there is take the Q100 bus from Queens Plaza (E-M-R) or the 21 ST Queensbridge (F)  (see the Q100 route: http://tinyurl.com/o4e2f3s)

Take a moment to RSVP on Facebook and invite all your friends!

We do not have a legal permit for this action, but we are committed to making it a safe space for all to participate. We have had several demonstrations there in the past, and had no problems with officers. The next demo at Rikers will be Saturday December 6, so mark your calendars.


#ResistRikers Raises Banners of Defiance in the Shadow of NYC’s Notorious JailResistRikersRally

Yesterday’s #ResistRikers rally shook the core of the NYC’s mass incarceration complex – over 50 activists and community leaders came together at the gates of Rikers Island demanding an end to solitary confinement, abuse and killing of incarcerated people.
A wide range of groups and experiences were represented at the rally. Speakers included formerly incarcerated people who described firsthand the conditions at Rikers, as well as members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Copwatch Patrol Unit, the New Black Panther Party, and the Democratic Socialists of America. Also in attendance were members of the Asociación pro-derecho de los confinados Ñeta, the Industrial Workers of the World, the International Socialists Organization, and the Jails Action Coalition.
Speakers connected the struggle against mass incarceration to ongoing protests in Ferguson, as well as the upcoming #O22 National Day of Action Against Police Brutality and the Rally to Restore the Morales-Shakur Center on Monday.
The crowd was amplified by banners, “Solitary is Torture” and “Justice for Mike Brown,” and passing cars honked in support of the demonstration. Correctional Officers looked on anxiously from across the street as the crowd shouted, “Broken windows – Tear it down! Mass incarceration – Tear it down!” and “Youth detention – abolish it! Rikers Island – demolish it!”
The electrifying energy of the crowd brought the widespread outrage of community members to the heart of mass incarceration in New York City, and the organizers asked everyone to return with five friends for the upcoming #ResistRikers action on November 8. This Saturday, October 25 at 3 p.m. activists will hold a strategy session at The Base (1302 Myrtle Av, Brooklyn) to plan next steps.

#o22 National Day of Action Against Police Brutality

Next Wednesday annual day of action against police violence could be the biggest we have ever seen. Join us on October 22 in Union Square at 1pm, we will march to Times Square.

Cecily was found not guilty!

The jury returned their verdict around noon, finding that Cecily had not committed Obstruction of Government Administration. The charge carried a maximum sentence of one year in Rikers, the infamous jail complex where Cecily served fifty-eight days over the summer.


In the courtroom, we breathed a collective sigh of relief as the jury foreman read the verdict, in surprise that the police and prosecution’s efforts were thwarted by members of the public. We hope our success today sets a precedent for solidarity efforts with activists facing criminal charges.Cecily participated in press conference with Green Party candidate for Governor Howie Hawkins shortly before the verdict was read. Mr. Hawkins pledges to exonerate and expunge records for all nonviolent drug offenders, and has supported Cecily since her felony trial.After the verdict was announced, Cecily spoke outside the courtroom along with defense attorney Marty Stolar, reiterating the need to film police and fight retaliatory charges in court.

Thanks to everyone who came to court and supported Cecily! We emphasize that most people who film police are harassed, abused, and convicted with impunity. Now more than ever, it is necessary for us to support one another in the struggle for justice for all.


We ask our allies to stand with Noche Diaz as he appears in court on Tuesday, October 14 on six misdemeanor charges related to his participation in a Ferguson solidarity demonstration. We will be holding a rally outside the courthouse at 100 Centre Street at 9:00am on Tuesday, October 14. Please RSVP on Facebook here to support Noche and the right to protest!
For more details on the trial and today’s events, check out today’s Village Voice piece

Report from Thursday

After the arresting officer’s partner was cross-examined this morning, Marty Stolar told the court he would not call any defense witnesses. This afternoon’s closing arguments placed the burden of proof squarely on the prosecution, while the district attorney scrambled to make sense of conflicting testimonies.

In his closing argument, Mr. Stolar explained the contradictions between the police witnesses’ description of the events. He pointed out that Officer Castillo claimed she was “yelling and screaming” for the entire duration of the incident, while Officer Rothermel made no mention of this allegation even though he was in their immediate vicinity. The two officers stated in their testimony that Cecily was “obnoxious” and “hysterical,” but Mr. Stolar emphasized that by the legal definition, Cecily in no way obstructed the arrest she was filming. Mr. Stolar swept away the moral insinuations made by the officers, reminding the jurors that they can disagree with Cecily’s actions but that “being loud and obnoxious is not a crime – yet!” Additionally he told the court that “using loud language is not yet a crime,” and recording police activity in a public police is legally protected by the First Amendment.

Assistant District Attorney Leah Saxtein stumbled through her closing argument, which she read page-by-page from a binder. She deferred to the legal authority of the police as the foundation of her evidence, glazing over the inconsistencies illuminated by Mr. Stolar. Drawing almost entirely from Officer Castillo’s statements, she insisted that he had not embellished them. Ms. Saxtein floundered as she cited the arresting officers’ demeanor on the stand as evidence of their credibility, to the surprise of the entire courtroom that saw them sweat and squirm yesterday. Toward her conclusion Ms. Saxtein drew attention to the trial’s sinister undertones, arguing that the police had no incentive to lie, they did not mind that Cecily had been filming them, and they certainly did not delete the video!

Today’s closing arguments provide a framework for digesting the reality of our justice system. The prosecutor’s lackluster rendition of police testimony should serve as a reminder that the vast majority of cases never go to trial – instead the DA’s office invents heavy charges then offers a plea bargain with lighter ones.

Tomorrow the jury will begin deliberating at 9:45am, and will likely produce a verdict before lunch. Please come out for this last day of trial to support our friend Cecily. RSVP on Facebook and share with friends, and text @CecilysTrial to 23559 for updates.


Update from Wednesday

The DA’s narrative unraveled as police witnesses completed their testimonies today. Tomorrow will likely be the final day of this trial.

Today four witnesses testified on behalf of the State- the arresting officer and his partner, the sergeant who oversaw them, and a DA investigator. The two officers who arrested Cecily gave disparate accounts of the events, which became clear during Marty Stolar’s cross-examination. Both officers claimed that Cecily was “hysterical” although neither could say how she obstructed the arrest. One officer insisted that she was “yelling and screaming” non-stop for the entire duration of the incident, while the other indicated nothing of the sort.When Marty Stolar inquired about one of the officers taking a video of Cecily while under arrest with his personal cell phone, Judge Ferrara insisted he had “opened a black hole that there was no coming back from” and that the video had to be admitted as evidence. The video showed Cecily softly crying as another officer removed her glasses and refused to give them back.

The sergeant, the most credible of the prosecution’s witnesses, gave a straightforward account of what he saw occur in the transit precinct, in direct contradiction to what the other officers stated. In a stunning display of the NYPD’s intelligence resources, the DA investigator said he found the two witnesses on Facebook and that he believed they were in Spain. The investigator sheepishly confessed that he does not speak Spanish, but nevertheless stood by the accuracy of his e-vestigation.

Both arresting officers testified that the overwhelming majority (about 75%) of their total arrests were for subway fare evasion – the crown jewel of Commissioner Bratton’s “broken windows theory” also known as “quality of life policing.” At the same time, the officers swore that of all the cameras in Union Square Station that would have caught any part of the incident, not a single one was operational in December 2013. Given that the events leading up to the arrest took place from the L platform all the way to the transit precinct, it would appear there is a massive gap in our Homeland Security in one of New York’s primary commuter hubs.

Report from Day Two of Cecily’s Trial

In an eventful day, jury selection was finalized followed by opening arguments, as well as one of the arresting officer’s testimony.
The prejudices built into the justice system came into focus during today’s jury selection. Potential jurors were dismissed if they displayed any skepticism whatsoever toward police officers, or if they had ever had a criminal charge in Manhattan. Others were accepted as jurors who professed the belief that the practice of filming police officers is “offensive,” and a former member of a law enforcement agency was admitted.Cecily’s attorney, Marty Stolar gave an opening argument in which he underscored the parameters of Obstructing Government Administration, reminding the court that “being obnoxious is not a crime” and that none of Cecily’s actions had obstructed the arrest in question. The police officer’s testimony collapsed in the absence of evidence to support his claims, as Mr. Stolar illuminated the slim chance that Cecily could have blocked the officer’s movement up several flights of stairs in her high-heels.The arresting officer’s testimony will continue tomorrow. During the lunch break tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. community leaders and activists will speak about the right to film police at a press conference outside the courthouse.

On Monday, re-trial motions determined that some of the prosecution’s evidence could not be legally admitted. Cecily’s prior charge and jail sentence will not be admissible, and neither will most statements the police alleged she said in custody. At one point, the head officer of the court tried to prevent members of the public, as well as press correspondents, from witnessing the proceedings by ordering them to clear the room. Judge Ferrara ultimately rejected the officer’s attempt to clear the courtroom.

It was made clear that again we need to pack the courtroom for this trial. Jury selection will continue Tuesday morning, and opening arguments are expected to begin after lunch. Several potential jurors were thrown out by the prosecutor – in one instance, a man was declined to serve on the jury because he said that NYPD officers “sometimes go too far.” In light of recent events, how can the prosecution expect to find New Yorkers that believe NYPD officers never “go too far”? 

Background information: 

Cecily was arrested again by the NYPD on December 7th of 2013 for for filming the police as they arrested two people in the Union Square subway station.

Cecily saw two plainly dressed men begin to abusively confront and interrogate a young couple. When she began to question them about the harassment, it turned out the men were police officers who then arrested them. Cecily followed them to the subway precinct, watching to make sure they were not further abused, and began to take a video of the arrest process from outside the precinct doors.

She was arrested and harassed by the police when they discovered she was awaiting trial for the incident at OWS, where she was sexually assaulted and then charged with felony assault on March 17, 2012. They put her in jail for the night and charged her with obstruction of government administration, though the people being arrested were released with summons.

For these new charges, Cecily faces up to a year back on Rikers.

We are asking that supporters pack the courtroom for the right to film the police, and to act as public witnesses to the trial. We need to come together in defense of our civil rights, and maintain vigilance of the manipulations of the prosecutor. We ask that everyone remain calm, respectful, and dignified in the courthouse – please wear business casual clothes.

Please don’t forget to invite your friends on Facebook and use the hashtag #Justice4Cecily.




“What I Saw on Rikers Island” by Cecily McMillan


Please sign and share my petition to end human rights abuses on Rikers Island.



Statement from Rikers on July 2, 2014

Fifty nine days ago, The City and State of New York labeled me a criminal. Millionaires and billionaires who had a vested interest in silencing a peaceful protest about the growing inequalities in America worked the justice system, manipulated the evidence presented and suddenly I became dangerous and distinguished from law-abiding citizens. On May 5th the jury delivered its verdict, the judge deemed me undesirable, and officers drove me across that bridge and barred me within. On the outside, I spent my time fighting for freedom and rights, On the inside I discovered a world where words like freedom and rights don’t even exist in the first place. I walked in with one movement, and return to you a representative of another. That bridge right there, that divides the city from Rikers Island does not only divide two worlds, today I hope to bring them closer together. Crossing back over, I have a message to you from several concerned citizens currently serving time at the Rose M. Singer Center.

Incarceration is meant to prevent crime. Its purpose is to penalize and then return us to the outside world ready to start anew. The world I saw at Riker’s isn’t concerned with that. Many of the tactics employed seem to be aimed at simple dehumanization. In the interests of returning the facility to its mission and restore dignity to its inmates, we, the women of Rikers, have several demands that will make this system more functional. These were collectively drafted for me to read before you today.

First of all, we demand that we be provided with adequate, safe, and timely healthcare at all times. That, of course, includes mental health care services and the ability to request female doctors if desired at all times for safety and comfort. We often have to wait for up to 12 hours a day for a simple clinic visit, and occasionally 12 hours a day for up to a full week before we see anyone.The women of Rikers feel a special sense of urgency for this demand because of a particular event that occurred recently.

About a week ago, our friend Judith died as a result of inadequate medical care. Judith had been in RSMC for a while, but was transferred to our dorm 4 East A, where I was housed, only a few days before her death. She had recently been in the infirmary for a back problem, and had been prescribed methadone pills for the pain for quite a while. A few days before she died, they decided to change the medicine to liquid despite her dissent. They gave her a dosage of 190mg, which any doctor will tell you is a dangerous dosage, far higher than what anyone should be taking unless it is a serious emergency. Judith was not allowed to turn down the medicine or visit the clinic to get the dosage adjusted.

After three days on that dosage, Judith could no longer remember who or where she was and had begun coughing up blood, accompanied with what we believe were chunks of her liver. We attempted unsuccessfully to get her medical treatment for the entire day, at one point being told that this was “not an emergency,” despite the fact that Judith was covered in blood. That night they finally removed her to the hospital, where she remained in critical condition before passing away a few days later. This was a clear case of medical malpractice, both with the ridiculously high dosage of methadone and the refusal of adequate treatment. Stories like this are far too common in Rikers Island, and we demand that no more of our sisters be lost to sickness and disease as a result of inadequate medical care.

Our next demand is that COs should be required to follow the protocol laid out for them at all times, and that at some point soon that protocol should be examined to make sure that all rules and procedures are in the best interests of the inmates. We also demand that we have a clear and direct means to file a grievance that will be taken seriously and examined fully, so that Officers can be properly disciplined and removed from the area quickly when they abuse or endanger us.

Recently my friend Alejandra went to file a grievance about being denied access to medical treatment for a concussion until she awoke one morning unable to move. When she met with the captain after filing the grievance, she was presented with a different sheet and a different complaint than the one she had provided and was forced to sign it. Inmates should be able to trust that situations like that will not concern, and that our safety and dignity be respected by those designated to supervise us. There is a clear protocol for officers already laid out in the inmate handbook, but it is seldom followed. Officers are allowed to make up the rules as they go and get away with it, which we find unacceptable.

Our final demand is that we be provided with rehabilitative and educational services that will help us to heal our addictions and gain new skills, and that will make it much easier for us to adjust to the outside and achieve employment when we are released. Specifically, for our education we would like access to a classes beyond GED completion, maintenance, and basic computer skills, access to a library, and English classes for those attempting to learn the language. We feel that the addition of these programs would significantly help us prepare for release and reentry into the world, which would lower reincarceration rates.

We also feel strongly that Rikers Island needs to have much better drug rehabilitation programs. Many women who come through here are addicts, and many women are imprisoned here because they are addicts. That’s the area in which reentry rates seems to be the highest. This is likely a direct result of the failure of the meager programs that we are provided with. Thus, it seems only logical that serious and effective drug rehabilitation programs be provided to those who need them, assuming that the Department of Corrections would like to help work to achieve a better, healthier society and keep as many people as possible out of jail.

Working with my sisters to organize for change in the confines of prison has strengthened my belief in participatory democracy and collective action. I am inspired by the incredible resilience of incarcerated people I have encountered, and I find faith in their ability to find commonality in a system that is utterly stacked against them. My time at Rikers has changed me permanently, an even more formative experience than Zuccotti Park itself. Most importantly I have learned that the only difference between the people we call citizens and those we call criminals is vastly unequal access to resources. As long as we deny the humanity of people in prison, we cannot imagine a truly free society.

Working with my sisters to organize for change in jail has been the most transcendent experience of my life. We will continue to fight until we gain all the rights we deserve as citizens of this city, of this state, and of the United states of america.

-Cecily McMillan

July 2, 2014 

Rikers Island, NYC


“Hace cincuenta y nueve días, los gobiernos municipal y estatal de Nueva York me etiquetaron como criminal. Los millonarios y multimillonarios —que tenían un interés personal en silenciar una protesta pacífica sobre las crecientes desigualdades en Estados Unidos—, coaccionaron el sistema de justicia, manipularon las pruebas y de pronto me convertí en una persona peligrosa y diferente de los ciudadanos que respetan la ley. El 5 de mayo, el jurado deliberó sobre su veredicto, el juez me consideró indeseable y los oficiales me hicieron cruzar ese puente [el puente de la isla-reclusorio] y me encerraron ahí. Desde el exterior, pasé mi tiempo en cautiverio luchando por libertad y derechos. Desde dentro, descubrí un mundo donde palabras como libertad y derecho, en primer lugar, ni siquiera existen. Entre ahí con un movimiento y salgo de ahí como representante de otro. Ese puente que está ahí, que divide a la ciudad de la isla Rikers, divide a dos mundos: hoy, espero unirlos más. Al cruzar de vuelta, tengo un mensaje para ustedes de varias ciudadanas preocupadas, que actualmente están cumpliendo condena en el Centro Rose M. Singer.

Se supone que el encarcelamiento es para prevenir el crimen. Se supone que es para castigarnos y después devolvernos al mundo exterior listos para empezar de nuevo. El mundo que yo vi en Rikers no está preocupado por eso. Muchas de las tácticas empleadas están dirigidas a una simple deshumanización. Con el interés de hacer que la instalación recupere su misión y restaure dignidad a sus internas, nosotras, las mujeres de Rikers, tenemos varias demandas que harán más funcional este sistema. Éstas fueron elaboradas colectivamente para que yo las leyera ante ustedes hoy.

Antes que nada, exigimos que se nos proporcione atención médica adecuada, segura y puntual en todo momento. Eso desde luego incluye servicios de atención a la salud mental y la posibilidad de solicitar doctoras mujeres en todo momento, si así lo deseamos, para nuestra seguridad y comodidad. Muchas veces tenemos que esperar hasta 12 horas al día para una simple consulta clínica, y a veces entre 12 horas y una semana completa antes de poder consultar a un doctor.

Las mujeres de Rikers tienen una especial urgencia respecto a esta demanda debido en particular a un suceso reciente. Hace como una semana, nuestra amiga Judith murió como resultado de una inadecuada atención médica. Judith llevaba un tiempo en esta prisión pero no fue trasladada a nuestro dormitorio 4 Este A —donde yo fui alojada— sino hasta unos días antes de su muerte. Hacía poco había estado en la enfermería por un problema en la espalda y se le había recetado durante algún tiempo pastillas de metadona. Pocos días antes de morir, decidieron cambiarle la medicina por líquido, a pesar de que ella se negaba. Le dieron una dosis de 190 mg., lo que cualquier doctor puede decir que es una dosis peligrosa, mucho más alta de lo que cualquiera debe estar tomando, a menos que se trate de una grave emergencia. No se le permitió a Judith rechazar la medicina o visitar la clínica para que le ajustaran la dosis.

A los tres días de tomar esa dosis, Judith ya no pudo recordar quién era ni dónde estaba, y había empezado a toser sangre junto con algo que nosotras pensamos que eran pedazos de su hígado. Tratamos de conseguirle tratamiento médico el día entero y no lo logramos; en cierto momento se nos dijo que “no era una emergencia”, pese al hecho de que Judith estaba cubierta de sangre. En la noche por fin se la llevaron al hospital, donde estuvo en condiciones críticas antes de morir, unos cuantos días más tarde. Éste fue un caso claro de negligencia médica, tanto por la dosis ridículamente alta de metadona como por haberle negado un tratamiento adecuado. Historias como ésta son demasiado comunes en Rikers Island, y exigimos que  ya no más compañeras nuestras sucumban a la enfermedad como consecuencia de una inadecuada atención médica.

Nuestra siguiente demanda es que los oficiales de las correccionales estén obligados a apegarse en todo momento al protocolo que tienen, y que en cierto momento, pronto, ese protocolo sea examinado para asegurar que todas las reglas y procedimientos sean en el mejor interés de los internos. También exigimos tener una vía clara y directa de presentar una queja que sea tomada seriamente y examinada completamente, para que los oficiales puedan ser adecuadamente sancionados y apartados del área rápidamente cuando abusan de nosotras o nos ponen en peligro.

Recientemente, mi amiga Alejandra fue a presentar una queja porque se le negó el acceso al tratamiento médico por una concusión hasta que una mañana se despertó sin poderse mover. Cuando vio a la capitana después de haber tramitado la queja, le presentaron una hoja diferente con una queja diferente de la que había entregado y fue obligada a firmarla. Las internas deberían poder confiar que estas situaciones ya no serán motivo de preocupación y que nuestra seguridad y dignidad serán respetadas por los encargados de supervisarnos. Hay un protocolo claro ya establecido en el manual del interno para los oficiales, pero pocas veces lo siguen. Los oficiales tienen permitido componer las reglas sobre la marcha y salirse con la suya, cosa que encontramos inaceptable.

Nuestra última demanda es que se nos proporcionen servicios de rehabilitación y educación que nos ayuden a curar nuestras adicciones y a adquirir nuevas aptitudes, y que nos facilitarían mucho más ajustarnos al exterior y conseguir empleo cuando seamos liberadas. Especialmente para nuestra educación quisiéramos tener acceso a clases para pasar más allá de la prueba de Desarrollo Educativo General (GED), de mantenimiento, y de manejo básico de computadoras, acceso a una biblioteca, y clases de inglés para quienes están tratando de aprender el idioma. Pensamos que añadir estos programas nos ayudaría considerablemente a prepararnos para salir y reingresar al mundo, lo que disminuiría los índices de encarcelamiento.

Asimismo, tenemos la firme impresión de que Rikers Island necesita tener mucho mejores programas de rehabilitación de drogas. Muchas mujeres que llegan aquí son adictas y muchas son encarceladas porque son adictas. Parece que ése es el aspecto al que se debe la mayor tasa de reingresos a la cárcel. Probablemente es el resultado directo del fracaso de los escasos programas que nos dan. Por lo tanto, parece lógico que se brinden programas serios y eficaces de rehabilitación de drogas a quienes los necesitan, asumiendo que al Departamento de Correccionales le gustaría ayudar a trabajar para lograr una sociedad mejor y más saludable y mantener fuera de la cárcel a la mayor cantidad posible de personas.

Trabajar con mis hermanas para organizar un cambio en los confines de la cárcel ha fortalecido mi creencia en una democracia participativa y en la acción colectiva. Es para mí una inspiración la resistencia de la comunidad que he encontrado en un sistema que está amañado en contra nuestra.       La única diferencia entre la ciudadanía a la que llamamos “respetuosa de la ley” y las mujeres con las que cumplí mi tiempo de sentencia es la desigualdad en el acceso a los recursos. Al cruzar el puente me veo obligada a mirar atrás y reconocer que estos dos mundos no están divididos. El tribunal de justicia me mandó aquí para atemorizarme a mí y  a otros y silenciar nuestra inconformidad, pero tengo el orgullo de salir diciendo que el 99% está, de hecho, más fuerte que nunca. Continuaremos luchando hasta que ganemos todos los derechos que nos merecemos como ciudadanos en esta tierra.”


Cecily McMillan

2 de Julio, 2012

Rikers Island, NYC

Big thanks to Malu Huacuja del Toro for translation!

Cecily was sentenced to 90 days in jail, plus five years of probation. Read the statement from the team here, and read Cecily's writings from Rikers Island here.


Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Youtube