Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald is a young African American transgender woman who is charged with two counts of “second degree murder” after an incident that began when she was violently assaulted because of her gender and race.
CeCe is a creative and energetic person who, before her life was so unjustly interrupted, was studying fashion at [Minneapolis Community and Technical College]. 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. Read about CeCe in her own words here.
There are varied accounts of what happened on June 5, [2011,] but CeCe and the people she was with all agree on the following details. Around 12:30 am, CeCe was walking to the grocery store with some friends, all of them young, African American, and either queer or allied. As they passed a local bar, the Schooner Tavern, a group of older, white people who were standing outside the bar’s side door began hurling racist and transphobic slurs at them, without provocation…When CeCe approached the group and told them that her crew would not tolerate hate speech, one of the women said, “I’ll take you bitches on,” and then smashed her glass into CeCe’s face. She punctured CeCe’s cheek all the way through, lacerating her salivary gland. A fight ensued, during which one of the attackers, Dean Schmitz, was fatally stabbed.
The only person arrested that night was CeCe. She is now being falsely accused of murder.
CeCe was briefly taken to the hospital where she received 11 stitches in her cheek. Then, while she was still suffering both physically and mentally from this traumatic incident, she was left alone in a room for three hours and then interrogated, after which she was placed into solitary confinement. She spent the next several months in jail and had to wait almost two months between her initial doctors’ visit and a much-needed follow-up appointment. During that time, her cheek swelled into an extremely painful, golfball-sized lump, making eating difficult and producing headaches and pressure on her left eye and ear. Ironically, the only gesture towards CeCe’s well-being that authorities made during her incarceration was to put her in solitary confinement “for her own protection” on two separate occasions, despite her stated desire to be housed alongside other prisoners. CeCe was bailed out on conditional release in October of 2011, but has since been returned to jail due to alleged violations of her conditions of release.