Community Demands “Drop The Charges Against Chrishaun McDonald” Rally Calls for an End to Violence Against Transgender Women of Color
July 11, 2011
contact: Katie Burgess
Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network
Minneapolis, MN – Community members rallied outside the Hennepin County District Court this morning after packing the courtroom at Chrishaun McDonald’s court appearance. After a powerful rally at McDonald’s last pre-trial hearing on June 28, family, friends and community supporters have continued to spread the word about her case. Today’s crowd included more than 50 of Ms. McDonald’s close family and friends, members of local LGBTQ organizations and many new supporters who have heard about her case through community meetings and fundraisers.
Chrishaun McDonald is a young African American transgender woman who was attacked by a group of white adults while walking by the Schooner Tavern on Lake Street in South Minneapolis, early on the morning of June 5. Patrons of the bar attacked Ms. McDonald and her friends with transphobic and racist slurs and bashed Ms. McDonald’s face with a glass beer mug. Although Ms. McDonald was the target of a hate crime, she was singled out and charged with second degree murder after one of the attackers was killed. After her arrest, she was held for a month in solitary confinement for her “protection,” despite her requests to be moved to another part of the jail.
Speakers at today’s rally emphasized that Ms. McDonald’s case takes place in a broader atmosphere of violence against transgender women of color. “The painful reality is that the expectation of violence is constant for many transgender women of color. That violence takes place within families, on the streets, in the workplace, in schools and in jails and prisons,” noted Katie Burgess, Executive Director of the Trans Youth Support Network. In a national survey of trans people, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 38% of African American respondents experienced police harassment, 15% reported being physically assaulted by the police, and 7% reported being sexually assaulted by the police.
McDonald’s supporters have demanded that the charges against her be dropped immediately. Burgess explained, “We know that Chrishaun cannot receive a fair trial by a jury of her peers: because of transphobia and racism, the deck is stacked against her. Given the discrimination, harassment, abuse and violence that Chrishaun and so many other transgender women of color face every day, we see that the only resolution to this case is to release her back to her family and friends. It is clear that she can never be safe while housed in a prison or jail. Her family wants her back home.”
In a recent communication to her supporters, Ms. McDonald said, “This kind of love gives me inspiration and keeps me motivated to fight for myself and those who have been in my shoes, and for future generations. I believe this one incident is going to open the eyes of many and show people what…the GLBTQ community has to go through.”
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