Listen to rocker Krist Novoselic speak about the late, not so great Occupy Wall Street movement, and one gets the sense he had a soft spot for those unwashed radicals.
To a point.
Novoselic, the former bassist for Nirvana, has little sympathy for the group beyond that. After all, what did OWS actually accomplish?
Novoselic discussed OWS, politics and more with The Daily Beast, and the bassist says he prefers politics with an emphasis on getting things done.
Novoselic’s desire for change did not make him an Occupy Wall Street sympathizer, he said. “It wasn’t compelling for me. I’m busy doing real political work, and I just don’t have time to sit under a leaky tarp in downtown Portland. I’m doing things.”
Novoselic expressed frustration that Occupy did not use their manpower to help political candidates that shared the movement’s beliefs.
The shadow of Occupy Wall Street has passed us by. As the rest of America goes on being productive and capitalist, the only remnants of the irrelevant movement are a few assault and battery lawsuits. One of the last criminal trials is the case of Cecily McMillan, a 25 year old graduate student at The New School in New York City.
Two years ago, during a Saturday night Occupy protest at Zuccotti Park, McMillan allegedly assaulted an NYPD officer. McMillan’s defense is that the policeman, Officer Grantley Bovell, “grabbed her right breast from behind” and “reacted instinctively, not knowing he was a police officer.” The same officer, including “several of his colleagues, the NYPD and city authorities” are now being sued by nine other protesters who claim their “constitutional rights” were violated. Who knew Marxists were so litigious?
Whether Cecily McMillan, or these other protesters, are entitled to a lawsuit isn’t the point. The more interesting fact is that most people still don’t sympathize with Occupy Wall Street. They didn’t in 2011, when 31% of Americans polled by Gallup didn’t agree with their methods (and 59% didn’t know or care). And now, as McMillan’s trial is scrambling to interview jurors, we are finding out that they can’t even get fair representation.
“I’m involved in Wall Street things. I’m on the Wall Street side, not their side,” said George Yih, a potential juror.
“Everything I believe – my morals – are kind of the antithesis of what they represent,” said Jason McLean, an equity trader who was promptly dismissed.
“…in terms of Occupy Wall Street”, says Alan Moore whose wife works on Wall Street, “in general, I would give less credibility to that group than average.”
Are these people trying to get out of jury duty, or are people less inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to socialists? Wait, what am I saying? College socialists are so well behaved…
Last of the Occupy Wall Street trials begins in NYC
Cecily McMillan, 25, faces 7 years in prison for elbowing Officer Grantley Bovell in the face, a felony, during a police sweep of Zucotti Park, scene of an Occupy Wall Street protest on March 17, 2012.
McMillan does not deny that she elbowed the officer. At issue is the nature of the incident.
Officer Bovell says he was attempting to escort her off the grounds when she attacked him. She says he grabbed her breast from behind, and she simply reacted to the assault on her, throwing out an elbow, not realizing it was a police officer.
In her opening statement, Rebecca Heinegg, one of McMillan’s defense lawyers, said her client “reacted in surprise” when her right breast was grabbed from behind, according to an article in The Guardian. She added that McMillan, a known Occupy activist, was also known for her nonviolence philosophy. Furthermore, Heinegg said McMillan wasn’t taking part in that day’s events, but was simply passing through the area, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends.
“She was dressed in bright green, she had friends visiting from out of town, and she was out in the West Village and the East Village to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” Heinegg said.
Assistant district attorney Erin Choi painted a different picture. Choi said a film would show McMillian crouched, and ready to spring at Officer Bovell.
“Officer Bovell was completely horrified. It was the last thing he expected that day,” Choi said.
The trial got off to a bit of a rocky start after several prospective jurors were dismissed claiming they could not be impartial. Some said they had strong ties to Wall Street financial businesses, others because they said they were suspicious of the police.
Zucotti Park in the city’s financial district was one of the original protest sites when the Occupy movement started in September, 2011. It eventually spread to other locations in New York, and other cities around the country.
Over the course of the protests, New York City police arrested 2,644 protesters, according to the New York Times. Of these, only seven were indicted, including McMillan. Of the other six, only one went to trial, a woman who was acquitted. Two others pleaded guilty to the charges they faced, and the other two pleaded guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges.
McMillan chose to ask for a trial, rather than plead guilty to a felony.
An Occupy Wall Street activist asked if she was being filmed before intentionally elbowing a New York police officer in the face, prosecutors told a court on Friday, as her lawyers argued that she struck out instinctively after having one of her breasts grabbed from behind.
Video footage will show that Cecily McMillan “crouched down, then bent her knees, and then aimed her elbow at the officer and then jumped up to strike” the officer as he led her away from a protest in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in March 2012, Erin Choi, an assistant district attorney, told the jury in her opening argument in McMillan’s trial for assault.
“‘Are you filming this?’, ‘Are you filming this?’ were the defendant’s words right before she intentionally attacked Police Officer Grantley Bovell,” said Choi.
After receiving a blow to his left eye from McMillan’s elbow, Choi said, “Officer Bovell was completely horrified. This was the last thing he was expecting to happen that day.”
McMillan, 25, is accused of assaulting Bovell, 35, and attempting to stop him from performing his duties during an operation to clear the park on the night of 17 March, when hundreds of protesters had gathered to mark six months of the Occupy movement. McMillan, who denies the charge, faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
One of McMillan’s attorneys, Rebecca Heinegg, told the court in her opening argument that McMillan did not intentionally strike Bovell but simply “reacted in surprise” to being grabbed on her right breast. Heinegg said the trial would centre on “what happened in a split-second on 17 March 2012, inside Cecily McMillan’s head”.
Heinegg stressed that while McMillan was “a committed activist” involved in Occupy Wall Street, “known among other activists for her commitment to non-violence”, she was on “a day off from Occupy” on 17 March 2012.
“She was dressed in bright green, she had friends visiting from out of town, and she was out in the West Village and the East Village to celebrate St Patrick’s Day,” Heinegg said.
McMillan had briefly stopped at the park to collect another friend, said Heinegg. “As Cecily was walking out of the park, heading back to her friends, she was suddenly grabbed from behind and pulled up and back by Officer Bovell, grabbed on her right breast, grabbed so hard that it left a bruise in the shape of a hand-print.
“As she reacted she hit Officer Bovell in the face with her elbow. She did not intend to hurt him, she certainly did not intend to prevent him from completing his police duties. She did not even know that the person grabbing her from behind was a police officer. She just reacted. And ladies and gentlemen, reacting to being grabbed by a stranger is not a crime”.
Choi, however, told the jury that after arriving at Zuccotti Park Bovell, of the 40th precinct in the Bronx, spotted McMillan “shouting, yelling and cursing at a female officer” after protesters were told by police that they must exit so that the park could be cleaned, and insisting that she did not have to leave.
He “decided to escort her out of the park by placing his hand on the back of her right shoulder,” Choi said.
“As they walked, Officer Bovell’s open palm was on the back of her shoulder,” said Choi. “The defendant decided to turn to her left and say: ‘Are you filming this?’, ‘Are you filming this?’. Officer Bovell, curious, turned to the left to find out who the defendant was talking to. At that moment, the defendant crouched down and jumped up and struck Officer Bovell.”
Choi claimed that when McMillan “attempted to flee”, Bovell “fell on top of her” and stood her upright so that she could be walked to a holding area where arrested protesters were being held. McMillan then said that she could not breathe and began “kicking her legs to get away from the officer, laying on the ground and refusing to give the officer her hands so that she could be handcuffed”.
“Officer Bovell informed her that if she could talk she could breathe,” said Choi.
McMillan was placed on a bus to be processed. “As soon as she got on the bus, the defendant acted as if she was suffering from a seizure and could not breathe,” Choi said, adding that McMillan was removed from the bus and began convulsing on the pavement.
Choi told the jury Bovell suffered bruising, swelling and a cut under his left eye, and went on to suffer headaches and blurred vision. “That’s how hard the defendant struck the officer,” she said.
Dr Eva Yan, an optometrist who examined Bovell two days later, testified that she recorded his iris as being slightly inflamed and that his cornea had a small scar. She said under cross-examination from Martin Stolar, McMillan’s lead attorney, that the injuries probably would have been more serious if an elbow had been aimed directly at his eye.
Wearing a purple dress, McMillan, an organiser and former New School student, sat between her attorneys taking notes as prosecutors made their arguments. A group of supporters and Occupy Wall Street organisers sat watching in the public benches. The trial is believed to be the last of a series of prosecutions brought by Manhattan authorities against the 2012 protesters.
Choi acknowledged that questions would be raised by McMillan’s attorneys about Bovell’s past conduct. Previously, during jury selection, she told told jurors Bovell had been disciplined by police chiefs for having five parking and speeding tickets fixed by his union representative as part of the so-called “Bronx ticketing scandal” that became public in 2011.
The NYPD has also confirmed in court filings in the trial that Bovell was previously subject to at least two other inquiries by the internal affairs bureau, and was disciplined over a 2010 case in which a 17-year-old boy claimed to have been injured after being run off the road on his dirt bike by police.
Bovell is also being sued in a civil lawsuit by an Occupy activist who claims the officer intentionally banged his head against the seats of a bus while removing him from the same protest on 17 March.
Choi asked the jurors to instead “focus on what happened” in the approach to McMillan striking Bovell in the face.
The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, is scheduled to resume at the state courthouse in Manhattan on Monday morning.
CALGARY, AB, Apr 13, 2014/ Troy Media/ – Advocates of reflexive state intervention as the desired means to a better world often believe their cause to be noble and just. From Robespierre and the French revolutionaries in the 18th century to Marxists in the 20th century, to milder “social justice” advocates today, what matters to some, apparently, is the language of equality, by which they mean equality of result. They focus overmuch on the words and ignore the often tragic, bloody results.
But one need not look at extreme examples of state interventionism. Lovers of equality of result, and of the notion a public bureaucracy is capable of solving almost any problem, become positively giddy when the prospect of additional taxes and higher spending seem close at hand. The tax-and-spend crowd continually assume, wrongly, that large government is equal to compassion and that its corollary, high taxes, is conducive to and responsible for a sense of community.
For instance, the late federal NDP leader Jack Layton, campaigning in 2004, labelled previous tax relief in Ontario “extreme,” responsible for all sorts of ills, and argued Canadians did not want tax relief to cause “that kind of damage at a national level.” In 2008, Layton campaigned on higher corporate taxes and more taxes on the wealthy on the basis that higher taxes were a necessary salve for societal salvation. The 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest movement, insofar as it had any coherence, saw various protesters demand higher taxes and more redistribution, especially on the “1 per cent” (i.e., those in the top one per cent of income earners).
As long as taxes exist, income will be redistributed; that is what taxes do. But insofar as the specific notion that any Canadian should be taxed more, the demand is curious. At 38 per cent of GDP, government revenues as a percentage of the economy are at the higher end of the range of where they were during Pierre Trudeau’s reign (between 35 and 39 per cent of the economy) – and he was hardly a low-tax advocate.
Moreover, shortly after some reductions in the tax burden in the late 1990s and early 2000s, provincial governments, in particular, began to raise them once again. These days, tax increases are routinely suggested by government unions, special interest groups, and politicians on the grounds of morality, utility or just on the notion the rich do not pay enough. (In such advocacy, rarely is another possibility considered: cuts to unnecessary parts of government to finance other areas).
On the tax question, Canada’s taxes are already wildly “progressive,” if by that it is meant a taxpayer pays more as she moves up the income scale. And contrary to Occupy Wall Street myth, even the wealthy pay a lot in taxes, higher both in proportion to their numbers and income. To grasp this, start with a look at who actually files a tax return and their share of the tax burden. For starters, 24.8 million of us filed a tax return in 2010 and about one-third, over 8.4 million, paid no tax at all. That is a substantial number of people who thus rely on everyone else – the other 16.4 million – to fund hospitals and schools, to pay to patch a road, or to pay a soldier in Canada’s defence.
Break that number down further. Canadians who earn under $50,000 constituted 73 per cent of all tax filers in 2010; their income is equal to 38 per cent of all income reported. Their share of the taxes paid that year amounted to just 17 per cent. Thus, those who earn under $50,000, almost three quarters of the population who file a tax return, are responsible for less than a fifth of all tax receipts (which includes federal and provincial income tax, Canada Pension Plans payments, and employment insurance taxes).
The middle class – let’s define them as those with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 – account for 21 per cent of all tax filers. They take home 35 per cent of all income, and pay 37 per cent of the taxes.
And the famed “1 per cent,” the subject of so much Occupy Wall Street angst and protest, and who became a cliché for the notion some don’t pay their “fair share”? The top 1 per cent (in Canada, anyone with over $250,000 in earnings) earned 10 per cent of all income and paid 20 per cent of all income tax.
Add in the next wealthiest cohort and the top 2 per cent of tax filers (above $150,000) accounted for 16 per cent of all declared income but paid 30 per cent of all taxes. Add in anyone with earnings over $100,000 and the top 6 per cent of tax filers paid 46 per cent of taxes in Canada.
It was this distribution of income-to-taxes-paid that 1980s-era Conservative Finance Minister Michael Wilson had in mind when he remarked that Canada needed more millionaires. And he was correct. There is no one in Canada who needs to pay more tax, including even the wealthiest cohort of the population. As it is, the top 6 per cent of income earners in Canada already pay almost half the tax bill.
Excerpted fromTax Me I’m Canadian! A Taxpayer’s’ Guide to your Money and How Politicians Spend It. Mark Milke. Thomas Black 2014. Reprinted with permission.
Next: Sorry Virginia, income taxes are constitutional
Download this FREE edited column. Access all of Troy Media’s cut and paste content for your publication or website for one low monthly fee.
Occupy Wall Street protesters march along 47th Street in New York September 17, 2013.(Reuters / Joshua Lott)
An Occupy Wall Street protester facing seven years in prison for an alleged 2012 assault may wait even longer to hear her fate as New Yorkers have proven to be so divided on the issue that finding impartial jurors has so far been nearly impossible.
Jury selection in the trial of Cecily McMillan began on Monday
but has gone on longer than anticipated because attorneys on both
sides of the case have been unable to agree on a juror pool
willing to approach the case with a fresh perspective. The trial
is the last criminal trial relating to the Occupy Wall Street
protests in New York.
McMillan, 25, is charged with assaulting a police officer during
a March 17, 2012 protest in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.
Prosecutors are expected to argue that McMillan intentionally
assaulted Officer Grantley Bovell when he was making arrests at
the demonstration. The young woman has maintained that she was
unaware Bovell was a police officer and that she was only trying
to fend off a man who grabbed her breast from behind.
Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011 with a small
encampment in the heart of New York City’s financial district.
The movement quickly multiplied, attracting demonstrators from
throughout the world who rallied around the idea that the
wealthiest one percent of the population had for too long taken
advantage of the other 99 percent.
The “We are the 99%” slogan immediately made headlines
and inspired countless other protests around the US and elsewhere
in the world.
For all the talk about income inequality, though, the
left-leaning Occupy movement has been as divisive as the Tea
Party, its rival counterpart on the right. Nowhere was that
divide more evident than in the movement’s birthplace, where
bankers, lawyers, and executives walked past Occupiers’ tents and
signs on their commute into offices located dozens of floors
That tension lasts through today, with prosecutors and defense
attorneys quickly filing through prospective jurors for the
McMillan trial. Alan Moore, one potential juror, told the court
his wife worked on Wall Street as a bond strategist, so it would
be difficult for him to judge McMillan’s actions with a clear
“I like to think of myself as fair,” he said, as quoted by the Guardian, which first
reported on the dilemma. “But in terms of Occupy Wall Street
in general, I would give less credibility to that group than
average…They seem to be people moving a little outside regular
social norms and regular behavior. Therefore I don’t give them
the same level of respect as people who follow the line.”
The notion was shared by many. The court hoped to fill the 12
juror seats by Monday’s end, although they were only able to fill
seven of those seats by the time Tuesday came to a close.
“For 20 years, my occupation has been, in some fashion, on
Wall Street,” said equity trader Jason McLean, who lives
with his wife, also an equity trader, in the Murray Hill
neighborhood of New York City. “Everything I believe – my
morals – are kind of the antithesis of what they represent. I
don’t know that I could be completely objective.”
Other possible jurors were excluded after reporting negative
experiences with police in the past. Patrick Grigsby, who works
as an actuary on the Upper West Side, was expelled when he
admitted that learning Officer Bovell had been disciplined as
part of the so-called “Bronx ticketing scandal” of 2011 would
impede his view of the incident in question.
Martin Stolar, McMillan’s attorney, told the Guardian both he and
his client are confident that the two sides would eventually
“find the people who fit the profile” of impartiality.
His co-counsel Rebecca Heinegg agreed.
“A surprising number of people are actually willing to say
they can’t be fair,” she said.
The defense team previously told journalist Jon Swaine that McMillan was
a frequent visitor to Zucotti Park and known for her peaceful
disposition. She had brought a friend down to visit for a St.
Patrick’s Day celebration on the day when the incident with
Bovell occurred. The young woman had bruises on her back, head,
feet, and breasts that the defense says were incurred when Bovell
“An innocent woman is being accused of something that could
send her to prison for seven years,” Stolar said outside a
previous hearing in Manhattan. “She was leaving the park
pursuant to the police department’s orders when she was brutally
assaulted by a police officer and subsequently accused of
assaulting that police officer.”
The prosecution, perhaps unsurprisingly, disagrees. A criminal
complaint obtained by the New York Times claims that Bovell suffered
“swelling and bruising and substantial pain to his left
eye” in the confusion.
An Occupy Wall Street activist charged with assaulting a police officer is a “promoter of non-violence” who wandered into a tussle with law enforcement while celebrating St Patrick’s Day, her lawyers plan to argue in court this week.
Jury selection began on Monday morning in the trial of Cecily McMillan, who denies assaulting Officer Grantley Bovell as he arrested protesters from the anti-capitalist movement in New York’s Zuccotti Park on 17 March 2012.
“An innocent woman is being accused of something that could send her to prison for seven years,” McMillan’s attorney, Martin Stolar, told reporters outside the state supreme courtroom in lower Manhattan. “She was leaving the park pursuant to the police department’s orders when she was brutally assaulted by a police officer and subsequently accused of assaulting that police officer.” McMillan told a small group of supporters: “Thank you for being here today.”
Prosecutors are expected to argue that McMillan, 25, intentionally elbowed Bovell in the face as he carried out his official duties. They are expected to cite testimony from police officers and a long-range video clip of the incident.
McMillan insists that she did not know Bovell was a police officer and swung her arm at him only after he grabbed one of her breasts from behind. Stolar told the Guardian in an interview that the court would hear that she was renowned among fellow campaigners in the Occupy movement and in other activist circles as “a profound pusher of non-violent political action”.
“Her reputation is somebody who promotes non-violence as the preferred method of achieving political ends,” said Stolar. “She is not somebody who has a reputation for being a violent person. So there will be character witnesses that will testify that her character is such.”
McMillan’s defence team also intends to stress that although she had been active in the occupation of Zuccotti Park, she was enjoying a “day off” on 17 March by celebrating St Patrick’s Day with a friend visiting from outside the city. She had stopped at the park only for about 20 minutes to collect another friend when the clash with Bovell took place, they claim.
“She was out partying, she wasn’t out to get into a confrontation with the cops,” said Stolar. “And she was dressed in bright green: you don’t go out and go commit a crime wearing something that is obvious and makes you easily picked out.”
Jurors are expected to be shown photographs of McMillan taken three days after the incident showing a hand-shaped bruise on her right breast. Her lawyers argue that while other bruising – on her back, the back of her head, and backs of her legs – was caused when police pushed her to the ground after she struck Bovell, the bruise on her breast was inflicted before this.
“The explanation for her having a bruise on her front, as far as we are concerned, is that is where she was grabbed by the person who turns out to be a police officer,” said Stolar. “And her swinging around and her arm hitting the cop in the face was a reaction, a response to being grabbed on the breast.”
Stolar last month had a motion requesting access to Bovell’s NYPD personnel file rejected by Judge Ronald A Zweibel as irrelevant to McMillan’s trial. The NYPD’s response to Stolar’s motion confirmed that Bovell had been subject to inquiries by the force’s internal affairs bureau at least twice and had received a “command discipline” in 2010.
The Guardian last week disclosed that Bovell is being sued by another Occupy activist, Austin Guest, who alleges that the officer dragged him down the aisle of a bus while “intentionally banging his head on each seat” while removing him and dozens of other protesters from the demonstration, which marked six months of the Occupy movement.
Guest’s attorneys said in an updated complaint in federal court that as a result, the 33-year-old Harvard graduate “suffered physical, psychological and emotional injuries, mental anguish, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, and other damages”.
Guest and eight other protesters, none of whom was charged with a crime, are suing Bovell, several of his colleagues, the NYPD and city authorities for allegedly violating their rights. They are seeking unspecified compensation, damages and legal fees. Lawyers for the NYPD said in a response motion that the officers denied all the allegations.