Saturday, May 26, 2012

CeCe McDonald and the Continuing Injustice

Let me begin by saying a huge and loud and raucous HAPPY BIRTHDAY CECE MCDONALD!  You are loved and celebrated today.

Yesterday, I received an email from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. This is the second time that I have received a letter from him/his office related to CeCe McDonald. Yesterday's email made me so angry that I started to cry. The basic gist of the letter (and I will post the whole damn thing at the end of this) was that even though Freeman charged CeCe with 2nd degree murder, wasn't he nice and gentle by allowing her to plea bargain down to a manslaughter charge, and instead of facing 27 years in prison, isn't it lovely that she will only spend JUST over two years in prison. And isn't it awesome that now the Washington County Attorney is charging one of her attackers with ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON, and now justice will be served because one CeCe's attackers will also be rolled into the criminal justice system. And ain't it obvious that he is a friend of the LGBTQ community and will continue to be our friend?

It was at this point that I wanted to fly home to Minneapolis and cuss Mike Freeman out to his face.

Lezbehonest about a few things here.

1. CeCe McDonald killed a Nazi in defense of her own life. This is not a crime. It has now been explained to me that the defense of life only counts if you use the exact same weapon used to attack you, meaning, in this case, to defend herself, CeCe should have used only her fists. Since she didn't, and used what she had at her disposal, she attacked an unarmed man and therefore...murder. BULLSHIT! If you come at me with the intent to take my life or cause me bodily harm, I am going to do EXACTLY what my Mama told me to do when I was a kid and was being bullied, "Pick up a brick and bash his fucking head in." It is my right and CeCe's to do any and everything necessary to defend her life with whatever tools happen to be at hand.

2. The fact that the county attorney is doing his job in prosecuting one of CeCe's attackers, the fact remains that even if this person is convicted, it will not remove CeCe from jail. It won't undue the trauma that CeCe has faced, it won't undue the transphobia, and it won't bring justice to CeCe, the survivor, of a hate assault.

3. The fact that Shannon Flaherty IS being charged with assault with a deadly weapon is proof positive that CeCe was defending her life. Please see item #1. Defending your life is not a crime.

Fuck you Mike Freeman. You are no friend of mine and no ally to the LGBTQ community. I don't care how many sensitivity trainings your office does or if you eat out the pussy of every staff member at OutFront MN (God help them...many are my friends...I do not wish this horror on you).  YOU ARE NOT OUR ALLY, County Attorney Freeman.

Today is CeCe's birthday, and she will be spending it in jail for a crime that she did not commit. She is serving time for being black. She is serving time for being trans. She is serving time for living her life openly and with dignity. The law is not free from the obligation of incorporating the impact of injustice into its practice. So when Mike Freeman says that gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. can not be part of the consideration in whether or not to bring charges, I say to you BULLSHIT AGAIN. The Supreme Court declared our criminal justice system to be racist, especially towards black folks. It is fundamental to the system and its power structure and therefore to pretend that issues of identity and oppression are not factors in how and when and where to determine if a criminal act has taken place is an abrogation of duty and a willful practice of ignorance. It is injustice. It should be Mike Freeman behind bars.

Happy Birthday again, CeCe. We love you. See you soon.

Letter from Mike Freeman. Subject line was Crishaun McDonald case. I wrote back and said that her name is CeCe Mcdonald. USE IT.

Good afternoon,
Last month, I wrote to many of you because you had contacted our office about our handling of the Chrishaun McDonald case. I want to update you now on significant actions around that case.

Recently, the Washington County Attorney’s Office charged Molly Shannon Flaherty with one count of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and one count of third-degree assault-substantial bodily harm for attacking Ms. McDonald on June 5, 2011 outside the Schooner bar.

As I mentioned several times during the months leading up to Ms. McDonald’s trial, we immediately sent the case to Washington County because it would have been a conflict of interest if we had charged the case against Ms. Flaherty at the same time we had charged the homicide case against Ms. McDonald.  Washington County Attorney Peter Orput stated after the charges were filed May 11 that he would have filed the charges last summer, but he needed to talk to Ms. McDonald and get her medical records. Ms. McDonald’s lawyers were afraid that information could be used against her in the murder case and advised her not to cooperate with Mr. Orput, a position both we and Mr. Orput understand and respect. It is my understanding that Ms. McDonald’s attorneys no longer have this concern and Ms. McDonald is helping put together a strong case against Ms. Flaherty.

As you probably know, we entered into a plea agreement with Ms. McDonald that dropped the charge from second-degree murder to second-degree manslaughter in the stabbing death of an unarmed victim. Instead of facing a possible sentence of 27 years in prison if convicted, Ms. McDonald will be sentenced to 41 months, and with time served and good behavior, she should be released in just over two years. We agreed to this negotiated resolution because we thought it served justice for the family of the stabbing victim, but also was appropriate for Ms. McDonald.

I want to reiterate, our role as prosecutors is to examine the facts provided by police investigators and determine if there is sufficient admissible evidence to bring a charge. It is our mission to serve justice and public safety. Gender, race, sexual orientation and class are not part of the decision-making process. That is how we handled Ms. McDonald’s case from beginning to end. That is how we try to serve in every case we review. We cannot, and do not, let popular opinion determine how we handle cases.

However, it is important that we fully serve all members of our community and, therefore, we do listen to the comments and concerns about the justice system. We understand that some in the LGBTQ community may continue to disagree with the way we handled the McDonald case and that is their right. However, I renew my pledge to continue to work with all our residents to make this office receptive to your concerns. We know Hennepin County has a large LGBTQ community and it is our duty to make sure your voice is heard so that safety and justice is achieved for all.

Mike Freeman
Hennepin County Attorney


  1. this is some bullshit , the more I read it the more pissed of I get ...i can't .......

  2. Thanks for posting your correspondence with the local attorney's office. This is such a blatantly racist and transphobic case, and everyone needs to be writing about it.


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