Last June Crishaun “CeCe” McDonald, a black trans woman, was arrested by police in Minneapolis and charged with second-degree murder fafter stabbing Dean Schmitz to death outside a bar. In her trial—which begins today—McDonald is claiming self-defense.McDonald says she and her friends were confronted by a group of people outside Schooner Tavern and subject to racist and transphobic language before one of Schmitz’s friends started a fight by breaking a glass on the side of her face.
According to a representative from the Trans Youth Support Network, the prosecution stated that no weapon was recovered from the scene of the crime, and that it’s still unclear what the weapon that killed Schmitz actually was.
LGBT activists from around the country have traveled to Minneapolis to witness the proceedings, which have already garnered much media attention. Among those at the trial is Leslie Feinberg, author of Stone Butch Blues, who submitted an open letter to ADA Michael Freeman requesting he cease prosecution of McDonald. “The right of self-defense against all forms of oppressions–the spirit of Stonewall–is at the heart of the demand to free [McDonald],” she wrote.
Last Friday Judge Daniel Moreno ruled that the swastika tattoo on Schmitz’s chest was not admissible as proof of his history of bigotry, nor were his three previous convictions for assault as evidence of his violent disposition. Judge Moreno also ruled that McDonald supporters were not allowed to wear “Free CeCe” t-shirts in court.