Outfront Minnesota: “We Stand in Solidarity with CeCe McDonald”
An anti-transgender hate crime occurred this summer that left an attacker dead and the victim in jail. The OutFront Minnesota Anti-Violence Program has been engaged in the community response to this event, but we want to do a better job of communicating about what has happened and why we support CeCe McDonald.
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald is a 23 year-old African-American transgender woman charged with second-degree murder after an incident that began when she was violently attacked because of her gender and race.
CeCe and several of her friends, who are all African-American, were walking by a bar in South Minneapolis early on the morning of June 5, 2011 when the incident occurred. A group of much older bar patrons standing outside the bar verbally assaulted CeCe and her friends with transphobic and racist slurs: “faggots,” “niggers,” “chicks with dicks” and more. That group, led by 47-year-old Dean Schmitz of Richfield—a man with a swastika tattooed on his chest, remarked that Cece was dressed “like a woman” in order to rape him. Another member of the group removed CeCe’s jacket and hit CeCe in the face with a glass beer mug which shattered on impact and tore a hole through CeCe’s cheek. In the ensuing melee Schmitz was stabbed and killed.
Although CeCe was the victim of a hate crime that involved many people, only she was arrested. It’s not known who actually stabbed Schmitz or many of the specifics as to what occurred. We do however know that CeCe was the only person held by the police.
CeCe is a creative, energetic person who was a student at MCTC studying fashion. She had a stable home where she lived with and helped support four other African American youth—her family. CeCe’s family describes her as a leader, a role model and a loyal friend. She is known as a wise, out-spoken and welcoming person with a cheerful disposition and a history of handling prejudice with amazing grace.
After her arrest, CeCe was unfairly held in solitary confinement and denied adequate medical care for her injuries. Her bail now stands at $75,000.
We stand in solidarity with CeCe, her family and those within the community who are working to ensure that she is treated with dignity and respect and has access to safe and supportive legal services.
In Minnesota and throughout the country, transgender women of color continue to be disproportionally targeted for hate- and bias-related violence. Without strong and vocal support, cases with hate and bias elements (like CeCe’s) are too often dismissed by systems and communities unable or unwilling to recognize the unique and complex disparities often experienced by people , especially in the areas of racism and transphobia.
To do that we must challenge ourselves and each other to identify and dismantle the myriad oppressions currently operating in the criminal justice system.