In the spring of 2011, McDonald and a group of friends, all of color, queer and allied, while walking to a 24 hour store were verbally accosted by a group of racist drunks outside a local bar. McDonald confronted them and was subsequently assaulted by a woman, who smashed a glass in McDonald’s face, puncturing her jaw and lacerating her saliva gland. The fight that followed resulted in the self-defense stabbing death of Dean Schmitz, who McDonald and supporters identified as an instigator in the confrontation.
Supporters have been pushing for McDonald’s release since her conviction in 2012. McDonald’s arrest and conviction had become emblematic of systematic failures and mistreatment of transgender women and people of color in the criminal justice system. McDonald’s incarceration for surviving a racist and transphobic attack was particularly upsetting; from arrest to pre-trial a number of rulings by the presiding judge prevented a comprehensive defense for McDonald, ruling that ‘the swastika tattooed on Schmitz’ body was inadmissible as evidence of a racist assault.’ In addition, Judge Moreno ruled out any possible defense to detailing the kind of violence transgender communities face daily.
McDonald will release a public statement after her release later this month.
You can still show your solidarity for CeCe McDonald by honoring her request to donate to Estrellita through the Rainbow Defense Fund. I’d also encourage you to donate to support the making of the documentary about CeCe McDonald produced by “Orange Is The New Black” star Laverne Cox.
Syreeta McFadden believes in equal justice and protection under the law for all persons.