Your honor, I stand before you exhausted. I have spent 35 of the 42 months that I have been in New York City in this room trying to convince the court of my innocence. I have lost friends and family, school and work, and, most recently, my freedom. I have been exhausted of nearly everything that makes me, me, except, that is, my dignity.
As a young girl my mother told me, “Cecy, everything you see, your home, your loved
ones, even your life, can be taken from you at will. But no one can strip you of your dignity
without your consent.” I don’t think I knew what dignity was then, but I did understand that it was
deliberate, something you had to define for yourself.
And though I am still young, and still searching for answers, I have started down a path where dignity is derived from the law of love, and though it has been said that this trial is personal and not political, I maintain that the personal cannot be divorced from the political.Whereas nonviolent civil disobedience is the manifestation of my ideology, it is rooted in a love ethic that is central to my identity.
The law of love holds that we, all of human society, live one common life, our existence beats with one common pulse – that as we listen to one another, learn from one another, love one another – we draw closer to one another and towards our collective happiness. Therefore -whether in resistance or in retribution, whether personal or political, violence is not permitted.
This being the law that I live by, I can say with certainty that I am innocent of the crime I have been convicted of. And as I stand before you today, I cannot confess to a crime I did not commit; I cannot do away with my dignity in hopes that you will return me my freedom.
However, the same law of love requires me to acknowledge the unintentional harm I caused another – for this accident, I am truly sorry. And in this spirit, your honor, I ask you to halt the violence there. Consider my words as I ask you to not perpetuate one injury with yet another.