New School student Cecily McMillan has been the subject of worldwide media attention since her arrest at Zuccotti Park on March 17. The arrest, which was caught on video, has raised the profile of police tactics used against Occupy Wall Street protesters.
On Thursday, New School President David Van Zandt released a statement urging the university community to “continue to oppose violence at peaceful protests by any person, and make the safety of all a paramount concern,” as well wishing McMillan “a rapid recovery.”
The Free Press has obtained the following statement, McMillan’s first public comment since the night of her arrest.
Statement by Cecily McMillan
March 21, 2012
I am going to make a brief statement about the events of Saturday night in Zuccotti Park. Since I have an open case, I can’t discuss specifics about the facts surrounding my arrest or my treatment in police custody. However, I have every intention of fighting the charges against me. I am innocent of any wrongdoing, and confident I will be vindicated.
Most importantly, I want to reiterate my long-standing personal commitment to non-violence, and non-violent forms of civil disobedience. When police are ordered to move on us, it is easy to become scared, and to react fearfully. We need to rise above the tactics of some police: if we become violent, we are no better than them.
It doesn’t need to be this way. In Madison, Wisconsin, a year ago, when we were protesting the governor’s attacks on unions, many of the police worked with us to help keep these protests peaceful. Going forward, I hope we can similarly work with local law enforcement officials in New York City, and that they receive training in de-escalation and the use of less violent tactics. And we as a movement also need to adhere to non-violent forms of protest.
I believe our movement will endure – but we can only thrive if we have the sympathy and support of the public.