September 12: Supporters Rally for Chrishaun McDonald, demand “free CeCe, Drop the Charges!”


Supporters Rally for Chrishaun McDonald, demand “Free CeCe, Drop the Charges!”

September 12, 2011

contact: Katie Burgess
Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network
(612) 363-7574

Minneapolis, MN – Over 70 people gathered at 12:30 this afternoon outside the Hennepin County District Court to show their support for Chrishaun McDonald, who appeared in court at 3 pm for an Omnibus Hearing. Three speakers demanded that the charges against McDonald be dropped and called on supporters to contribute to McDonald’s bail fund. At the hearing, McDonald’s trial was continued to September 22 at 9am. Both sides are exploring all options to resolve the case, and DNA evidence is due back in December.

“CeCe has shown amazing resiliency and leadership during the past few months, calling for her own release and an end to this kind of violence and discrimination,” said Katie Burgess, Executive Director of the Trans Youth Support Network. JayJay Cross, McDonald’s sister, called on those gathered to sustain their support: “I want my sister to get out of jail, because she means so much to me. I want to ask people to support her, to love her, to show caring…She just shined in that courtroom. When she told us she loved us it just showed everyone in the courtroom her spirit.”

Speakers at today’s rally drew connections between McDonald’s case and broader patterns of violence and discrimination that transgender women of color experience at disproportionate rates. “We need to stop the bullying, we need to stop transgender people being assaulted…We need to stand in unity, as GLBT people,” said David Tomlinson of local GLBT organization Sotaboyzz Ent. ZaVawn Zay, CeCe’s brother, reiterated, “It’s a sad day that in 2011 transgender people still have to look over their shoulder when walking down the street. I would like to see change, I would like to see the people and the community involved and putting their social differences aside and come as one.”

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, 2011. 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.

Leaving the courtroom, Cee Cee Howell, McDonald’s cousin, said, “It’s just a shame that we have to keep going through these trials…we have to sit here being frustrated and sad. Love her and can’t wait for her to get out and I’ll stick with her till the end.”

Supporters have vowed to rally and pack the courtroom again on September 22 to demand that the charges against McDonald be dropped. Visit or email for more information, or find us on Facebook at


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