Category Archives: Press releases

Participants of “Rally” outside St. Cloud Prison respond to lockdown

St. Cloud, MN – On Friday, September 14th, nine people from Minneapolis staged a motorcycle ride to St. Cloud Correctional Facility to visit a friend who is imprisoned there. When they arrived, they discovered the prison facility on lockdown and SWAT teams guarding every entrance.  They later learned the lockdown was in response to their planned motorcycle ride.

This is their message to inmates in the St. Cloud prison, their families, and loved ones:

We were visiting in solidarity with our imprisoned friend to show that they have love, friendship, and long term support.  We aim to build human connections across the wire.

We regret that families and prisoners were denied visits on Friday.  It was the SWAT teams at the gates and the prison bureaucrats in their offices who made this a reality.  As several of us have spent time incarcerated, we know that prisons look for every excuse to isolate and deprive prisoners of human connections.  We hope that visitation was restored quickly.

We want the dignity and humanity of the inmates respected.  We question what prison officials find to be a threat–our love and commitment to those behind bars?

Perhaps, for in our hearts we hold dreams of a world without prisons.  If you are listening, know that your struggle is ours until this prison society is abolished.

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Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald Sentenced to 41 Months for Reduced Charge of Manslaughter

June 4, 2012

Supporters Vow Ongoing Solidarity with McDonald for Duration of Sentence

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network, transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com, (612) 363-757 and Billy Navarro Jr, MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis—This afternoon, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald was sentenced to a 41 month prison sentence by Judge Daniel Moreno. Although McDonald initially faced two charges of second degree murder, earlier this month she accepted a plea agreement to a reduced charge of second degree manslaughter due to negligence. The sentencing proceedings included statements from community leaders, clergy, and McDonald’s family, testifying to McDonald’s loving character and expressing concern for her safety if she is sentenced to serve time in a men’s prison, given the high rates of physical and sexual violence against transgender women in men’s prisons. Around 80 Twin Cities residents arrived to show their support for McDonald, overflowing the courtroom where sentencing proceedings were held.

Although McDonald has been under state supervision for the past 366 days (in jail and under in-home monitoring) the judge determined that she will only receive credit for 275 days served, excluding the time she spent on in-home monitoring. Between this time served and time off for good behavior, McDonald will likely spend less than two more years in prison. Additionally, McDonald was ordered to pay $6410.00 in restitution.

The Department of Corrections has not determined where McDonald will spend the remainder of her sentence, but it is likely that she will go to one of Minnesota’s men’s prisons. In recently released federal standards on the elimination of sexual abuse in prisons, the Department of Justice notes that transgender people should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to place them where they will be in the least danger (not solely based on genitals). Moreover, the DOJ guidelines seek to minimize the use of solitary confinement for the alleged protection of transgender prisoners. These standards apply to state prisons that receive federal funding. They may impact McDonald, who has been held in a men’s facility for the past year, and twice been sent to solitary confinement against her will.

For supporters, McDonald’s sentencing marks a turning point, but not an end to their efforts. “This is not a resolution to CeCe’s case: she should not be serving time simply for surviving a vicious attack. But the prosecution felt so much pressure in this high profile case that they knew they had to offer a less egregious charge than second-degree murder, ” said Josina Manu. “We’ll stand by CeCe throughout her sentence and after she’s released.”

Supporters have consistently rejected County Attorney Michael Freeman’s claims that the prosecution of McDonald is race and gender-neutral, emphasizing that McDonald’s attack and prosecution are part of a pervasive culture of violence against transgender women of color. They note that Freeman’s responses to CeCe’s broad support campaign only underscore the fact that the criminal legal system provides no real means of securing justice and community safety.

Roxanne Anderson, the Director of the MN Transgender Health Coalition and McDonald’s former employer, said, “Today was a shining example of how hate and fear result in racism and transphobia, and how those play out in the courts of our land. I hope people keep supporting CeCe in every way they can, including showing up to the Power to the People tent at Pride, which was created to squash this kind of racism and transphobia.”

Billy Navarro of the CeCe McDonald Support Committee reflected on the fight to free McDonald: “Our victory today is the beautiful community of support that CeCe has brought together. We will keep fighting back against the incarceration of our loved ones and community members. This June marks the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, which was led by trans women of color, and this year we’ll be celebrating CeCe’s courage and the struggles that women like her have led for decades.”

For more information on McDonald’s case, visit supportcece.wordpress.com.

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Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald Accepts Plea Agreement to Reduced Manslaughter Charge

May 2, 2012

Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald Accepts Plea Agreement to Reduced Manslaughter Charge
Racism, Transphobia in Legal System Continued Assault McDonald Survived, Supporters Charge

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network, transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com,
(612) 363-757 and Billy Navarro Jr, MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com,
(612) 823-1152

Minneapolis, MN – Earlier today, Ms. Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald accepted a plea agreement to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the second degree in the criminal case resulting from the racist, transphobic assault she survived last June that left one of her attackers dead. The prosecution had originally charged her with felony murder in the second degree. However, after entering into plea negotiations this morning, the defense and the prosecution settled on the reduced charge. McDonald will be sentenced on June 4th at 1:30pm under Hennepin County Judge Daniel Moreno to 41 months in prison. The executed sentence will be reduced by one third, for “good time” and credit for the time McDonald has served pending this resolution. Read the rest of this entry

CeCe McDonald Supporters Meet with Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman

CeCe McDonald Supporters Meet with Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman
Freeman says “The criminal justice system is not built for, nor is it good at, solving a lot of society’s problems.”

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network, transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com, (612) 363-757 and Billy Navarro Jr, MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis, MN – After initially refusing a meeting, Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman and members of his staff agreed to meet with McDonald’s family and supporters on Tuesday afternoon. Hours before Tuesday’s meeting, Freeman’s office issued a letter to McDonald’s supporters defending his decision to charge her with two counts of second degree murder. During the meeting, Freeman cited his office’s 3-hour staff training in 2010 and a lesbian employee to demonstrate his awareness of the issues facing LGBTQ people. Supporters cited a petition with over 14,500 signatures and letters from over 35 local and national organizations, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Coalition of Anti-violence Programs, and Outfront Minnesota, to demonstrate the international concern over his ongoing prosecution of McDonald. Read the rest of this entry

4/17/12: Over 12,000 Supporters of Chrishaun McDonald call on Hennepin County Attorney Freeman to Drop The Charges; Nationwide, Organizations Declare Solidarity

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network, transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com, (612) 363-757
and Billy Navarro Jr, MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis – Supporters of Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald delivered a petition with over 12,000 signatures and a letter signed by 35 local, state, and national organizations directly to Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman’s office this afternoon, demanding that he drop the two second-degree murder charges levied against McDonald. Family members had earlier requested a meeting with the County Attorney Freeman, but he refused to meet with  them. Read the rest of this entry

McDonald Jailed on Alleged Violations of Conditional Release

January 5, 2012
McDonald Jailed on Alleged Violations of Conditional Release
Supporters Express Concern for McDonald’s Safety in Months Until April Trial, Vow to Continue to Mobilize

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN) transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com, (612) 363-7574; and Billy Navarro, Jr., MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis – This afternoon, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald appeared in court with her community packing the courtroom in continuing support. On Wednesday, January 4, she turned herself in after her parole officer issued a bench warrant for her arrest. McDonald’s parole officer alleges that for twelve hours starting on December 28 through December 29 the electronic monitoring device she is required to wear was tampered with. On December 29 McDonald was required by her parole officer to take a drug test. She tested positive for THC, after passing all prior drug tests since she was conditionally released in September 2011. The results of the drug test are considered a violation of the terms of her conditional release, which include no alcohol or drug use. Read the rest of this entry

Chrishaun McDonald’s Trial Continued Until April 30, 2012

McDonald Granted Furlough to Work, Denied Request to Return to College

December 20, 2011

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN) transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com, (612) 363-7574; and Billy Navarro, Jr., MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis – This afternoon, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald appeared in court for a hearing where it was decided that her trial will begin on April 30, 2012, instead of the original start date of January 9. Judge Moreno also ruled that, given the delayed trial date, McDonald will be permitted furlough time to seek employment and, once she finds a job, to go to work. The defense argued that McDonald should be granted furlough time to return to continue her schooling at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, given that she has been a “model citizen” in the months since her release from jail. However, Judge Moreno ruled against this request. The prosecution opposed both work and educational furloughs for McDonald, although they did not cite any specific rationalization for their position. Read the rest of this entry

Prosecutors Push for Forced Statement to Be Used Against Chrishaun McDonald in Murder Case

McDonald Asserts Self-Defense, Continues Fight Against Discriminatory Prosecution

December 5, 2011

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN) transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com, (612) 363-7574; and Billy Navarro, Jr., MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis – Earlier today, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald appeared in court for the first evidentiary hearing for the charges she is facing after being the target of a racist attack in June of this year. Prosecutors argued that a statement police extracted from McDonald under adverse conditions after her arrest should be admitted at trial, while McDonald’s attorney argued that the police denied her due process rights by overwhelming her will and extracting the statement after she had been isolated for hours when she was exhausted and in physical and emotional distress. (For the defense’s full motion, see https://supportcece.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/mcdonald-rasmussen-mot.pdf). In another key development in the case, McDonald announced that she will be pursuing an affirmative defense of self-defense resulting in an accidental death. Read the rest of this entry

Supporters of Chrishaun McDonald Hold Boisterous Rally Outside Henn. Co. Attorney’s Office

Attorney Michael Freeman Still has Time to Side with Justice over White Supremacy, Hate

November 21, 2011
Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network, transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com, (612) 363-7574; Billy Navarro, Jr., MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis – Earlier today, community members, family, friends, and supporters of Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald held a boisterous rally inside the office of Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, demanding that he take a stand against racism and transphobia by dropping the charges against McDonald. Community members from the Trans Youth Support Network, MN Transgender Health Coalition, OutFront MN and Communities United against Police Brutality joined together chanting, “If CeCe don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace!” The rally is one of a number of actions planned to highlight Freeman’s continued implicit support of white supremacy by prosecuting McDonald for murder after she was the target of a racist, transphobic attack by a group of white adults outside of Schooner Tavern on Lake St. earlier this year. One of the attackers, Dean Schmitz, had a swastika tattoo on his chest and died as the result of a stab wound inflicted during the attack. Read the rest of this entry

Prosecutors Trample Freedom of the Press to Continue Retaliation against Chrishaun McDonald

Supporters Pack Courtroom in Response to Latest Retaliation for McDonald’s Plea Refusal

November 9, 2011

Contact: Katie Burgess, Executive Director, Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN) transyouthsupportnetwork@gmail.com, (612) 363-7574; and Billy Navarro, Jr., MN Transgender Health Coalition, mntranspr@gmail.com, (612) 823-1152

Minneapolis, MN – In a clear continuation of a retaliatory agenda against Chrishaun Mai’Luv Reed “CeCe” McDonald for her refusal of a plea bargain, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has filed a motion to compel the Star Tribune to turn over a letter McDonald wrote in response to an interview request shortly after being arrested on June 5 of this year. McDonald is facing two felony murder charges after being verbally and physically assaulted by a group of white adults while passing by Schooner Tavern. One of the attackers, Dean Schmitz, who had a swastika tattoo on his chest, died of a stab wound in the ensuing scuffle. The prosecutors in the case added an additional murder charge after McDonald refused a plea offer in late September to a lesser charge and seven years in prison. Read the rest of this entry