Prosecutors retaliate for plea refusal, raise charge against McDonald
Supporters pack courtroom in McDonald’s first court appearance since her release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2011
Contact: Katie Burgess -Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network email@example.com, (612) 363-7574
and Billy Navarro Jr. –MN Transgender Health Coalition firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 823-1152
Minneapolis, MN – In a clear retaliatory move against Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald for her earlier refusal of a plea bargain, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office amended the complaint against her this afternoon, October 6, adding a charge of 2nd degree murder with intent in addition to her previous charge of 2nd degree murder without intent. Additionally, the prosecution hinted at a motion to raise bail but did not, in the end, raise the motion, since McDonald has already been released on bond. McDonald maintains that she has been falsely accused, noting that the incident that resulted in Dean Schmitz’s death began when she was violently attacked for her race and gender while walking to the grocery store. McDonald was released on bail earlier this week.
Supporters believe that the prosecution increased the charges against McDonald as further retaliation for her recent refusal to agree to a plea bargain offered on September 22. The prosecution has also asked to move McDonald’s trial up to December 12. Supporters object to the earlier court date, which appears to be an attempt to stifle community mobilization to support McDonald in court, and limit the defense’s time to prepare for trial. The defense has requested that McDonald’s trial date be returned to the original date of January 9.
McDonald and her supporters note that the new, harsher charge demonstrates that the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office continues to side with the white supremacists who attacked her and fail to acknowledge the hate crime that McDonald sustained. Katie Burgess, Executive Director of the Trans Youth Support Network, had this to say after Thursday’s hearing: “There is a clear choice to be made in this situation: do you stand with white supremacists? Or do you stand with queer youth of color in our community? Hennepin County has chosen to protect the interests of hate and bigotry. As people of conscience and compassion, we’re calling on them to exercise their discretion in this case and drop the charges against CeCe!”
McDonald was released from the Hennepin County Jail on Tuesday night, after a final push from her Support Committee to raise the cost of bond. Community supporters will continue to fundraise to offset trial costs. McDonald sent out this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can. Hate cannot drive out, hate only love can.”
McDonald’s trial is tentatively scheduled to begin on January 9, and supporters have vowed to pack the courtroom for the trial and any future hearings. Visit https://supportcece.wordpress.com or email email@example.com for more information.