On Tuesday June 28, 2011 at the Hennepin County Government Center a small group assembled to demonstrate support for Chrishaun (CeCe) McDonald, a young trans woman of color. The rally was scheduled to begin immediately following the sentencing in the courtroom that was packed as the call to action requested. There were, in fact so many supporters that the entrance to the courtroom had a volunteer posted to politely ask people to stop flooding the gates. The option offered was to assemble outside the northeast entrance to the government center in preparation of a rally to be held immediately following sentencing. The action was successful in accomplishing visibility and further support for the youth. The sentencing was continued until Monday July 11, 2011 at which time the youth and her supporters anticipate hearing her fate. The rally boasted dozens of people in support of McDonald. Chanting “Free CeCe” was echoing through the courtyard as ralliers shouted to the building where the defendant is being held. Officials and officers were nearby but did not interfere with the peaceful demonstration.
Charged with second degree murder for a crime the defendant asserts was self defense has stirred considerable public discourse. One of the community dialogs is in response to how the charged has been treated within the justice system. Another ongoing string of discussion is much broader and focuses on the way media, specifically a reporter for the Star Tribune, referred to McDonald as “the defendant, who is being charged as a man but is undergoing gender transition.” This has heightened public awareness to the importance of understanding appropriate language for reporting and dialoging about trans people.
This has presented an opportunity for Outfront Minnesota, glaad and TYSN to unite in their response. The LGBT community is rallying around the call to action of: holding press and law enforcement accountable to treatment of McDonald’s case; raising the money for her bail currently set at $150,000 (lowered from the original $500K); examination of the systemic disadvantages of people of color, low income people, trans people and youth in the criminal justice system.