CeCe is a creative and energetic person who, before her life was so unjustly interrupted, was studying fashion at MCTC. 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. Read about CeCe in her own words here.
Around 12:30 am on June 5, 2011, CeCe was walking to the grocery store with some friends, all of them young, African American, and LGBTIQ or allied. As they passed a local bar, the Schooner Tavern, a group of older, white people who were standing outside the bar’s side door began hurling racist and transphobic slurs at them, without provocation. They called CeCe and her friends ‘faggots,’ ‘niggers,’ and ‘chicks with dicks,’ and suggested that CeCe was ‘dressed as a woman’ in order to ‘rape’ Dean Schmitz, one of the attackers. When CeCe approached the group and told them that her crew would not tolerate hate speech, one of the women said, “I’ll take you bitches on,” and then smashed her glass into CeCe’s face. She punctured CeCe’s cheek all the way through, lacerating her salivary gland. A fight ensued, during which one of the attackers, Dean Schmitz, was fatally stabbed.
The only person arrested that night was CeCe. She was briefly taken to the hospital where she received 11 stitches in her cheek. While she was still suffering both physically and mentally from this traumatic incident, she was left alone in a room for three hours and then interrogated, and then placed in solitary confinement at the Hennepin County men’s jail. She spent the next several months in jail and had to wait almost two months between her initial doctors’ visit and a much-needed follow-up appointment.
After her arrest, CeCe was quickly charged with second-degree murder. In short, she was prosecuted for surviving a violent, racist, transphobic attack. Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman–the self described “Michael Jordan of prosecutors”–held the power to drop the charges against CeCe. But in the face of powerful community demands to “Free CeCe,” Freeman did not drop the charges: instead, he dug in his heels and escalated the attack against CeCe by adding an additional charge of second-degree murder.
On May 2, 2012, as jury selection for CeCe’s trial was underway, CeCe accepted a plea agreement: she pled guilty to a reduced charge of 2nd degree manslaugter, which carries a sentence of 41 months. For a court transcript of CeCe’s testimony during her plea hearing, click here. CeCe was officially sentenced on June 4th, 2012.
CeCe is currently being held in the men’s prison in St. Cloud, MN. With time served and time off of her sentence for good behavior, she will likely spend about 21 months in prison.
Fight for CeCe, and for an end to racist, transphobic violence in our communities!