Minneapolis, MN – 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 April 17, 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.
Nationally and globally, individuals and organizations are declaring Freeman’s decision to prosecute McDonald, who survived an unprovoked racist and sexist attack last June, unjust and appalling. Petition signers hail from across the 50 United States and dozens of countries. Her case has been discussed extensively in online media and featured in articles in the Huffington Post, GLAAD’s blog, Racilious, and PrettyQueer. On April 15, the case was highlighted on MSBNC’s Melissa Perry Harris show as a prime example of violence against transgender people and discrimination against transgender people within the U.S. legal system.
Nationwide, numerous notable individuals have publicly declared support for Chrishaun McDonald and called on County Attorney Freeman to drop the charges, including Leslie Feinberg, author of Stone Butch Blues; Dean Spade, Assistant Professor at Seattle University School of Law and founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project; Minnie Bruce Pratt, author of S/he; Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us; and Laverne Cox, reality TV star, producer, and Huffington Post columnist. Cox stated, “This case highlights how even when trans people, particularly trans people of color, are lucky enough to survive the brutal violence that is a part of so many of our lives, we are all too often victimized all over again by the criminal justice system.”
McDonald supporters delivered a letter to Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman signed by numerous national organizations including Queers for Economic Justice, Transgender Law Center, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, TGI Justice Project and the Soul Force Equality Ride. Local signatories include diverse groups at the University of Minnesota including academic departments and student organizations, Twin Cities International Workers of the World General Membership Branch, Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Committees United Against Police Brutality. Family members also delivered letters from State Representatives Susan Allen (61B) and Karen Clark (61A) and Minneapolis City Council member Cam Gordon.
Citing County Attorney Freeman’s work to protect “domestic violence survivors, seniors and vulnerable adults,” the letter calls on him to “value the safety of all members of our community.” The letter states, “The racism and transphobia that fueled the hate crime against Ms. McDonald and her friends are not acceptable to our community or on Minneapolis streets,” and, “continuing the injustice against Ms. McDonald does not serve the community’s interests and we support you choosing to drop the charges.”
Supporters will once again pack the courtroom for McDonald’s next hearing on April 24. Her trial is scheduled to begin April 30. Katie Burgess, executive director of the Trans Youth Support Network, said of the petition and letter delivery, “We’re here to tell Freeman: the country – the world – is watching you. It’s still not too late to do the right thing. Let CeCe come home.”