Category Archives: Support statements
April 30, 2012 – Today, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, a transgender woman of color, will be tried for the alleged murder of her attacker. Last June, Ms. McDonald was the victim of an attack in which, in the course of defending herself, one of her attackers was killed. Though witnesses reported criminal conduct on the part of several individuals, only Ms. McDonald was arrested. In 2011, the Hennepin County Attorney declined to prosecute at least three cases where assailants were killed when victims—who were not transwomen of color—had engaged in self-defense. By contrast, he has aggressively prosecuted Ms. McDonald. It seems that Ms. McDonald was limited to two choices on the night of her attack: defend herself and risk prosecution like the New Jersey 4, or end up dead like the three transgender women in Detroit, Miami, and Chicagowho have been murdered in the past month. Read the rest of this entry
29 April 2012
Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America
Solidarity with CeCe McDonald
The Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America stand in solidarity with Crishaun “CeCe” McDonald, an African-American transgender woman who will soon go on trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the “crime” of defending herself from a group of racist, transphobic, and quite possibly fascist thugs on the night of 5 June 2011. Read the rest of this entry
NLG Queer Caucus, Anti-Racism Committee, Anti-Sexism Committee and the United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) Denounce the Prosecution of CeCe McDonald and Demand Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman Drop Her Charges
On June 5, 2011, CeCe McDonald, an African American transgender woman, was assaulted by Dean Schmitz, a white heterosexual man, and his friends in a violent, racist, and transphobic attack. In the face of extreme violence causing her serious physical injury, Ms. McDonald defended herself. The Hennepin County Attorneys’ Office refuses to recognize her right to self-defense, and instead is prosecuting her for two counts of second degree murder for the death of Schmitz. If Ms. McDonald is found guilty of either count, she could be imprisoned for up to forty years.
The night of the attack, Schmitz and his crowd began yelling racist, homophobic, and transphobic slurs at Ms. McDonald and four of her friends, calling them “niggers,” “fags,” “chicks with dicks” and rapists who were wearing women’s clothes, as they walked past Schooner Tavern in south Minneapolis. An altercation ensued when one of the white women with Schmitz smashed a liquor glass in Ms. Mc Donald’s face, causing serious injury. Witnesses reported that Ms. McDonald had turned away and was leaving the altercation when Schmitz followed her in an aggressive, hostile fashion. Schmitz was subsequently stabbed with a pair of scissors in the chest and bled to death at the scene. Although Ms. McDonald claims she acted in self-defense and despite criminal conduct on the part of many in the crowd, including the white woman who struck Ms. McDonald in the face, Ms. McDonald was the only person arrested and criminally charged.
This is not the first time Schmitz has expressed racist and transphobic sentiments or engaged in violence. He was a proud racist who had a swastika tattooed on his chest and had previously been convicted of assaulting his fourteen year old daughter, his ex-girlfriend and his ex-girlfriend’s father.
Ms. McDonald’s fear for her life was more than reasonable and stems in part from the severe and deadly violence transgender women of color face at alarming rates across the United States. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reported in 2010 that people who identified as transgender or of color experienced assault or discrimination two times more often than non-transgender, white individuals, and transgender women made up 44% of the hate-motivated murders reported that year (a disproportionately high percentage in comparison to the percentage of transgender women in the overall population). In the past month alone, three transgender women of color have been murdered in Chicago, Detroit and Miami. Read the rest of this entry
Last week, the National Center for Transgender Equality joined the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) and fourteen other LGBT advocacy groups in urging County Attorney Michael Freeman to drop the second-degree murder charges against Cece:
Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman has charged McDonald with two counts of second-degree murder for acting in self-defense and allegedly fatally stabbing one of her attackers. Hennepin County has dropped murder charges in three similar cases where people have acted in self-defense. NCAVP and our allies add our support to the public outcry to drop the charges against CeCe McDonald.
The pre-trial hearings end today and the trial begins on Monday, April 30th. To help Cece, we encourage you to join nearly 15,000 other people in the Change.org petition calling on Michael Freeman to drop the charges. NCTE will continue to monitor the legal proceedings and update our blog about new developments.
Attorneys Freeman and Senechal:
I’ve experienced the short end of Minnesota human rights law as it impacts transwomen — differentially, negatively, and deleteriously so (635 NW2d 717). I know the neighborhood (especially around the Target and the Rainbow) where Ms. Chrishaun CeCe McDonald defended her life from these aggressors
(with nothing short of intersectional malice and alcohol on their minds). As a transwoman, I know that what CeCe did to save her life is precisely what I’d have done in her place. Otherwise, she’d be dead today, and your office wouldn’t give this much thought beyond deliberating a minimum sentence to her bias-driven belligerents for completing the bloodletting and death of a “worthless black tranny.” Read the rest of this entry
Dear Mr. Freeman:
OutFront Minnesota has been following with interest and concern the legal proceedings against Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald following an incident in Minneapolis in June 2011.
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.
As we understand it, that incident unfolded as follows:
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. That group, led by Dean Schmitz of Richfield, 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 bottle 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. Many of the specifics as to what occurred still remain unclear. 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.
We continue our deep commitment to 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.
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 AND in society as a whole.
Ms. McDonald is arguing that any actions she took that evening were in self-defense. It has become well-known in the LGBT community that there have been at least three other recent incidents occurring in Hennepin County in which your office has declined to charge and prosecute people who have taken lives while purportedly defending themselves or others.
Many people in the LGBT community see Ms. McDonald’s circumstances in a similar light, and are frustrated that your office has chosen to charge and prosecute her when others have not faced such measures. While we know and appreciate that you, personally, have been sensitive to the needs and concerns of the LGBT community for many years, the perception held by many community members is that Ms. McDonald continues to be singled out by your office.
We would respectfully ask that you clarify why this case is being prosecuted when seemingly similar situations involving others have not. If there are no meaningful distinctions between this case and those, we would urge your office to re-examine whether charges are appropriate here.
WHEREAS Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald is a 23 year-old African-American transgender woman in Minneapolis charged with second-degree murder after an incident that began when she was violently attacked because of her gender and race, and;
WHEREAS CeCe was the victim of a hate crime that involved many people, only she was arrested and the only person held by the police, and; Read the rest of this entry
April 11, 2012
Dear Mr. Freeman,
We write today to add our voices to the many groups and individuals who are advocating that charges against Ms. Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald be dropped.
As an organization we have heard thousands of stories like CeCe’s, in which transgender women of color are harassed and attacked simply for expressing their gender identity. Transgender women of color face extraordinarily high rates of violence as well as unfair and abusive treatment in the criminal justice system. Read the rest of this entry
April 16, 2012
Mr. Michael Freeman
Hennepin County Attorney
C-2000 Government Center
300 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55487
We, the groups and individuals listed below, are aware of the hate crime that was committed against Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald and her friends on June 5th, 2011, and of the developments in her case in the months since. As organizations committed to justice, we are standing with Ms. McDonald and her sizable support community in demanding the charges against her be dropped. Read the rest of this entry
While the Michigan Emergency Coalition Against War and Injustice is joining the thousands around the country demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, we
also lend our voice to those demanding freedom for our sister CeCe McDonald. What further proof is needed of the racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic nature of the so-called “justice” system than the double standard being applied in these two cases. The murderer of an unarmed African-American youth, who was never threatened, is walking the streets, free to murder again. Our sister, CeCe, is charged with murder and intent to murder for the death of the racist, anti-gay, anti-trans nazi goon who provoked the fight that led to his death.
We will not stand for this! Drop the charges and free CeCe now! Pack the courtroom April 30!
-Michigan Emergency Coalition Against War and Injustice, 3/29/12