Published Jun 6, 2012 11:12 PM
A year ago today, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald defended herself and survived a vicious anti-transgender, racist attack that left her injured and a swastika-tattooed racist dead. This June 4 McDonald was sentenced in Minneapolis to 41 months in prison by Judge Daniel Moreno.
McDonald’s supporters, as they have throughout her ordeal, stayed inside and outside the courtroom during her sentencing. One supporter, internationally renowned author and LGBTQ leader Leslie Feinberg — who is also a managing editor of this newspaper — was arrested at the “noise” protest at the jail housing McDonald in the evening following the sentencing.
Feinberg, a transgender lesbian, spent the night in the Hennepin County “Public Safety Facility.” As of today, Feinberg remains jailed and faces charges of property damage, according to Katie Burgess and Billy Navarro Jr., of the CeCe McDonald Support Committee in Minneapolis.
McDonald, 24, is an African-American transgender woman who was attacked by older, racist white bigots outside a bar as she and some friends — all of them youths and queer or allied — walked to a store late in the evening. The bigots hurled racist, sexist and anti-trans epithets and taunts at the youths. McDonald had a glass smashed in her face, puncturing her cheek and salivary gland.
This May 11, McDonald’s attacker, Molly Shannon Flaherty, 41, was finally charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm, both felonies.
McDonald was the only one arrested after she was attacked. She was charged with two counts of felony second-degree murder. On May 2, the third day of her trial, she accepted the prosecution’s plea agreement to a reduced charge of second degree manslaughter.
Every day across the U.S. thousands of oppressed people are forced to accept reduced time in prison for crimes they did not commit rather than risk a racist, sexist and/or anti-LGBTQ jury that could sentence them to decades of incarceration.
Held in men’s prison, solitary confinement
Although McDonald has been under state supervision for more than a year, the judge determined that she will only receive credit for 275 days served, excluding the time McDonald was under in-home monitoring. According to Navarro and Burgess, “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 $6,410 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.
“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.”
Noisy outrage follows sentencing
On the eve of McDonald’s transfer to the state prison system on the night of June 4, hundreds gathered outside the Hennepin County Jail in downtown Minneapolis for a loud demonstration in solidarity with McDonald. They banged pots and pans and other objects, blew whistles and other instruments, and made enough noise for McDonald to hear the love and solidarity inside her cell.
Outraged supporters took to the streets, marched and blocked traffic for more than an hour to protest the injustice of McDonald’s sentencing and the abuses suffered by this sister at the hands of the racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ “justice” system.
One protester wrote on Facebook: “Last night’s noise demo was awesome. I sense a new more militant spirit arising in the people. … I think the militancy shown at the door as they arrested Leslie scared the jailers.”
Navarro reflected on the fight to free McDonald: “Our victory … 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.”
As McDonald begins to serve out her sentence for defending herself against racist, trans-hating thugs, the movement must grow to spread the word about this outrage and to demand freedom for CeCe McDonald.
For more information on McDonald’s case and how to organize or take part in efforts to win her freedom, visit supportcece.wordpress.com.