The murder trial of CeCe McDonald is officially underway. McDonald is a black transgender woman who’s on trial for killing a man who she says physically harassed her outside of a Minneapolis-area bar. The trial officially began yesterday, but will be in full swing this morning as the woman’s supporters gather at the court house for support.
McDonald is on trial for second degree murder following the death of Dean Schmitz. But McDonald and her supporters are adamant that Schmitz’s death is a case of self-defense after the man allegedly yelled racist and homophobic slurs at McDonald. After the altercation, McDonald had to get 11 stitches to her face and there were reports that Schmitz had a swastika tattoo on his chest. Still, McDonald was interrogated by police without an attorney present and placed in solitary confinement.
Supporters say that McDonald’s case is a striking example of bias against transgender and black people in the criminal justice system. “People were very enraged about what had happened to her and the refusal of Hennepin County to recognize her right to self-defense,” Katie Burgess, executive director of Trans Youth Support Network, told Democracy Now.
Supporters have started a website, Support CeCe, to help tell McDonald’s story and follow developments during the trial. Recent trial updates mentioned that Schmitz’s previous history of domestic violence will not be used as evidence, but McDonald’s past conviction for writing a bad check will be allowed. It’s unclear whether or not Schmitz’s swastika tattoo will be admitted as evidence during the trial.
In the meantime, McDonald’s supporters have pledged to flock to the courtroom wearing purple to support the defense.
We’ll have regular updates throughout the trial, so stay tuned.