About 40 supporters of Chrishaun Reed "CeCe" McDonald, a transgender woman who was charged with second-degree intentional murder, shouted on Thursday afternoon for her to be freed from jail.
McDonald, who is in transition from a man to a woman, was charged last year with second-degree intentional murder in the death of Dean Schmitz, 47. McDonald, 23, was walking with a group of friends past the Schooner Tavern about 12:30 a.m. June 5 when words were exchanged between the group and Schmitz and other bar patrons who were outside smoking. A fight ensued, and a woman allegedly threw a glass and cut McDonald's face. Schmitz died at the scene from a stab wound to the chest. In a videotaped interview with police after the fight, McDonald allegedly admitted that she took out a pair of scissors to scare Schmitz, and that Schmitz ran into them during the fight.
McDonald has said the stabbing was accidental and that she was acting in self-defense after the melee was prompted by the victim's gay-bashing and racist remarks.
According to jail records, McDonald has been in custody since January.
More than 15,000 people have signed an online petition on Change.org asking the Hennepin County Attorney to drop the two second-degree murder charges against McDonald.
The letter says, "Amazingly, in the aftermath of this racist and transphobic attack, the only person facing charges is CeCe McDonald- the victim...We refuse to allow racism and transphobia, on Minneapolis streets or in Minneapolis courts. We support CeCe. We are waiting for County Attorney Michael Freeman to honor his commitment, in his words 'to serve all of our citizens with understanding, dignity, and respect' by dropping the charges against CeCe McDonald."
McDonald's trial is set to begin Monday.
A little after 6 p.m.Thursday, about 30 people marched down busy Hennepin Avenue to the jail chanting and holding banners saying "We are Trayvon Martin." Martin, 17, was walking through a gated community in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26 when he was shot by George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch member who has claimed self-defense. The Trayvon Martin case has been a catalyst for discussions across the nation about race and the right to defend oneself.