Supporters charge that racism and transphobia in legal system continue the assault against McDonald
May 2, 2012
Minneapolis, MN – Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald accepted a plea agreement, May 2, to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the second degree in the criminal case resulting from the racist, transphobic assault that she survived last June.
The prosecution 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 4 at 1:30 p.m. under Hennepin County Judge Daniel Moreno to 41 months in prison. According to a statement from her support committee, “The executed sentence will be reduced by one third, for ‘good time’ and credit for the time McDonald has served pending this resolution.”
The plea agreement comes nearly a year after McDonald was arrested, interrogated, denied adequate medical care for a laceration she suffered during the attack, and held in solitary confinement for a month for being a transgender person. During the pre-trial proceedings, supporters raised worldwide support for the demand that the charges against McDonald be dropped. Last month, supporters delivered 15,000 signatures and dozens of letters of support for McDonald from organizations and prominent individuals from around the globe to Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman. Freeman consistently failed to exercise his professional discretion and take a stand against racism and transphobia by dropping the charges.
“Freeman’s aggressive prosecution of CeCe was a continuation of the racist, transphobic assault that led to her being charged and resulted in the tragic death of one of the assailants,” said Kris Gebhard of the CeCe McDonald Support Committee. “We’ve been proud to stand with CeCe as she fought this unjust prosecution and will continue to stand with her as she fights for justice as a trans woman of color within the prison system.”
In a press conference after the plea agreement was accepted in court, Katie Burgess of the Trans Youth Support Network addressed the crowd of supporters filling the steps outside the Hennepin County courthouse. Burgess stated, “Over the past 10 months I have witnessed the legal system isolating and attacking another young trans woman of color in our community, CeCe McDonald. And over the past 10 months, I have also witnessed our community say very clearly, ‘You are not alone, CeCe! And we have had enough!’”
Burgess continued, “With the whole world watching, Freeman’s office consistently chose not to take the opportunity to stand up against racism and transphobia. Freeman himself said, and I quote, ‘The criminal justice system is not built for, nor is it necessarily good at, solving a lot of society’s problems.’”
Burgess concluded, “We know that this system is not designed to deliver justice to young trans women of color. We are going to continue to support CeCe as she goes through this process and continue to stand for justice for all trans people and people of color so that this is the last time a young trans woman of color has to go through this.”
Supporters will pack the courtroom for the sentencing on June 4 and continue to rally support for McDonald and to demand justice for all trans people and people of color.