A black transgender Minneapolis woman pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter in the stabbing death of a local man, but her supporters maintain she was the actual victim in the case.
As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting, 23-year-old CeCe McDonald is expected to be sentenced June 4 to three years and five months in prison for the death of Dean Schmitz, a white man.
McDonald was walking past a local bar on June 5, 2011 when an altercation between her and Schmitz, in addition to other patrons, erupted on the sidewalk outside. According to various reports, McDonald -- who was transitioning at the time -- said she pulled out a pair of scissors in an attempt to defend herself after the group hurled a glass at her face, and taunted her and her friends with both anti-gay and racist epithets, including "faggots," "niggers" and "chicks with d*cks."
Schmitz, who allegedly had a swastika tattoo and was between the ages of 41 and 47 according to varied reports, died at the scene from a stab wound to his chest.
Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon is among those to defend McDonald, saying she was targeted for her race and gender. "It appears that CeCe was the victim of a hate crime that involved many people but she was the only person held by the police," Gordon wrote on his blog. "Here is another example transgender women of color being targeted for hate- and bias-related violence. It is unfortunate that in this case, as in so many, the hate crime itself appears to have been ignored."
Melanie Williams, columnist for the Minnesota Daily, felt similarly. "[Schmitz's] attack, therefore, was not just a random attack on one person’s body, but an attack on an entire race and entire gender," she wrote. "An entire population of living, breathing, feeling people are hurting with McDonald, perhaps not physically but in the core of who they are."
Though prosecuting attorney Mike Freeman has insisted that "gender, race, sexual orientation and class [were] not part of the decision-making process," McDonald's supporters have also drawn attention to the treatment she is said to have received from officers and other officials throughout the course of the investigation and trial. According to Support CeCe McDonald, a website created "in solidarity with trans people targetted [sic] by the prison industrial complex":
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."