The following was written by Leslie Feinberg on Oct. 7. For more on the struggle to free CeCe McDonald, visit workers.org.
In this message, I report my trial date and the details of the plea deal that the Minneapolis city attorney’s office has put on the table.
At my pretrial hearing on Sept. 28, the date of the opening of my jury trial on a third-degree misdemeanor charge was set for Dec. 12.
That is not a speedy jury trial! I am ready to stand trial today. But the court has declined to schedule my trial in October, LGBTQ/+ History Month, or in November, the month of Trans Remembrance events in the U.S.
The scheduling of my trial for mid-December serves to bury publicity about the prosecution of an act of solidarity with CeCe McDonald.
A new year of struggle
In the U.S., the last two weeks of December are a time when students, teachers and school staffs are busily working and then schools close down for winter breaks. Workplaces and government offices shut down for winter holidays and New Year’s Day on the Gregorian calendar. Many people travel and communications via work and social media often slow down.
I am pressing to reschedule my trial date for mid-January — to begin a new year of struggle on the activist calendar.
A recent show of force at the St. Cloud, Minn., prison on Sept. 15 dramatically demonstrated that the 1%, and the criminally unjust system that maintains its rule, wants to thwart the growing support that CeCe McDonald’s struggle is inspiring.
Supporters rode together in a group motorcycle ride from Minneapolis to St. Cloud to visit McDonald that day. When they arrived, St. Cloud officials had locked down all the prisoners. SWAT teams were posted at every entrance, and all those who traveled to visit their loves ones were barred from spending precious time together.
Message to prosecution: ‘No deal!’
I thank Bruce Nestor and the National Lawyers Guild for your legal support.
The Minneapolis city attorney has put a plea bargain on the pretrial negotiating table. Here are the details as I understand them:
If I would plead “guilty” my sentence will be “stayed” — no jail time beyond the three days I already spent in lockup; one year probation; three to five days of community service. I would have to pay financial “restitution” for property “damage.”
After my arrest, I was held without bail for three days on a felony charge, which threatened five years behind bars. After mass outcry, the felony charge was dropped.
Now I’m being threatened with one year in jail.
But the prosecution is willing to make more time in jail go away if I’ll just “confess” my “guilt.”
My message to the prosecution is: No deal!
I want a speedy jury trial in which I can declare — not “plead” — that I am not guilty of any wrongdoing.
The action in which I delivered the people’s verdict — writing “Free CeCe Now!” on the county jail wall that held her — that was my “community service.” I was demonstrating my responsibility to CeCe and to many communities to take action against injustice.
One thing is clear: The repressive forces have the strength to hold me incommunicado behind bars, but they don’t have the power to stop the support for CeCe McDonald from widening and deepening.
As I write, transwomen of color are being lynched in cities across the U.S. and tortured in the prison-industrial complex.
CeCe McDonald is surviving this war.
In honor of her ongoing struggle, I’m making an open call for photographs for a slide show dedicated to “Free CeCe” in the no-cost author edition of “Stone Butch Blues.”
The slide show is titled, “This is what solidarity looks like.”
Please consider making “Free CeCe” group photographs at October LGBTQ/+ and November Trans Remembrance events with a sign or other message of support for CeCe McDonald.
Every day between now and the opening of my trial I will try to post at least a photo a day from the “Free CeCe” slide show on social media, to build solidarity with CeCe’s struggle and to thank the photographers for their permissions. I will also post photos in search of the photographer/s in order to give full photo credit.
Download permission forms at iacenter.org/lgbt/cecemcdonaldpictures. Send photos/permissions to [email protected] or via social media.
I’ll write more, when I can.
Free CeCe now!