1% & its hired guns can’t suppress growing solidarity
Of all the words I’ve penned over decades — as a revolutionary journalist and editor; a writer/worker of leaflets, pamphlets and books; and a proud member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981 — I’m proudest of writing these three words: “Free CeCe Now!”
I spray-painted those words — the peoples’ verdict — on the jailhouse/courthouse fortress walls and pillars at the end of a solidarity “noise” demonstration for CeCe McDonald, in Minneapolis on June 4, 2012.
I carried out this action publicly, in front of sheriff deputies, hundreds of witnesses and cameras. Rapper B. Dolan, who filmed the action, included footage in his rap video, “Which Side Are You On?”
As a result, I was jailed inside that fortress for three days, and charged with a felony — which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and $5,000 fine. After mass protest, the felony charge was dropped.
Recharged, ordered to appear in court Feb. 4
The city of Minneapolis has recharged me with 3rd degree gross misdemeanor — which carries a maximum of one year in jail and $3,000 in fines.
I am ordered to appear in the court of the 1% in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2013.
My heartfelt thanks to attorney Bruce Nestor and the National Lawyers’ Guild for providing me with legal defense in the courtroom.
The charge is meant to intimidate. I am not intimidated. I will not be silent. I’ve entered a plea of “not guilty,” and requested a jury trial.
But I don’t expect the prosecutor or judge to give me a chance to politically explain to a jury why I carried out a June 4, 2012, demonstration of solidarity with CeCe McDonald. The prosecutor and the judge decide what a jury hears.
So I am making my trial statement public — and posting it to the peoples’ jury of struggle in the Twin Cities, across the U.S. and around the world.
No illusions about criminal injustice system
I go back to Minneapolis into the court of the 1% without fear — sin miedo — to declare, “Free CeCe McDonald! Self-defense by workers and the oppressed is a right and a necessity. Stop the war against transwomen of color!”
I have nothing to gain from my solidarity action. There is no “celebrity” exploitation for profit. Under capitalism, “celebrity” is a creation of the monopoly media of the 1%.
I am not a product of the 1% media. I have been out organizing publicly as a revolutionary, as a communist, for more than four decades. I was very active as a Workers World newspaper managing editor for more than a decade. I have been on an extended medical leave since October 2007.
I was editor of the Political Prisoners’ Page of WW newspaper, a co-founder of Rainbow Flags for Mumia, a co-founder of Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban 5 and a longtime supporter of Leonard Peltier and Indigenous resistance — from Pine Ridge to Palestine.
I am an anti-racist white, pro-Palestinian secular Jew, a working-class union member, a transgender, lesbian female, who is well known for my activism.
I do not have any illusions about the criminally unjust system of law and punishment. I neither expect nor seek mercy from the court of the 1%.
The criminal injustice system has the strength to jail me and hold me incommunicado. But the repressive forces lacks the power to suppress the growing and deepening support for CeCe McDonald — in the Twin Cities, across the U.S. and in countries around the world.
I swear to tell the whole truth!
I will not swear on a bible or to a deity.
An oath to a god in the courtroom is actually a violation of the capitalist separation of church and state.
I am a secular Jewish communist; a dialectical materialist.
I am in active solidarity with Palestinian self-determination, and with Muslims and Sikhs and those from other religions who are being systematically and “legally” subject to apartheid passbook laws, raided and rounded up, detained without rights, tortured, deported or renditioned — “outsourced” for torture.
I strongly believe in the truth. I fight to defend it.
So I renew my vow to the peoples struggling against economic and military wars, within the U.S. and around the world, that I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because — unlike the prosecutor and the judge in the court of the 1% — the truth will set me free.
The whole world is watching!
CeCe McDonald survived a hate crime.
CeCe McDonald’s Web support site relates: “Around 12:30 a.m. on June 5, 2011, CeCe was walking to the grocery store with some friends, all of them young, African American, and LGBTIQ or allied. As they passed a local bar, the Schooner Tavern, a group of older, white people who were standing outside the bar’s side door began hurling racist and transphobic slurs at them, without provocation.”
In the trial transcript on that site, CeCe McDonald testified that at least four or more white adults took part.
“When CeCe approached the group and told them that her crew would not tolerate hate speech,” her support site states, “one of the women … smashed her glass into CeCe’s face. She punctured CeCe’s cheek all the way through, lacerating her salivary gland. A fight ensued, during which one of the attackers, Dean Schmitz, was fatally stabbed.”
If I had been at the scene that night, I would have fought alongside CeCe McDonald and her friends. But the attack on CeCe McDonald — her body and her life — continues.
“The only person arrested that night was CeCe.” (supportcece.wordpress.com)
CeCe McDonald has had to defend her body and her life behind bars, in a cell to which sadistic white supremacist and transphobic guards hold the key.
So I continue to support CeCe McDonald’s struggle to defend and free herself.
“Media blasts are targeted efforts that let the DOC” — the Department of “Corrections” — “know that CeCe has widespread support,” suggests CeCe McDonald’s support committee. (freececemcdonald.tumblr.com)
For more information, explore [email protected].
Unity makes us strong!
On the night of June 4, I joined hundreds of other Twin Cities supporters of CeCe McDonald in a “noise” demonstration outside the Hennepin County jail, where CeCe McDonald was spending her last night. At dawn, she was to be transferred to prison in St. Cloud.
The cacophony of the “noise” we made was a powerful force. We took the streets to march to the nearby youth jail, led by a banner demanding: “Free CeCe!” At the youth jail, we could see shadows silhouetted against the few, opaque, fortified jail windows — young people waving in response and raising clenched fists to communicate.
We marched back in the streets to the Hennepin County jail. The hands of the watchtower clock, which looms above the jail, were nearing the very hour when, one year before, CeCe McDonald and her friends were attacked, when CeCe was badly injured and arrested.
Before taking individual action to help turn up the volume on the demand to free CeCe McDonald, I waited until the noise demonstration was scheduled to end, in order to give other activists the choice to leave via the wide, open plaza area.
Then, I added my own individual support to the social and political demand pressed by tens of thousands, to protest the sentencing that morning of CeCe McDonald and to demonstrate solidarity with her on the anniversary of the fascist attack and her arrest.
I know, from my lifetime of battling to defend my body and personhood, what the lyrics of the union anthem, “Solidarity Forever!” mean about the “feeble strength of one.”
However, the character of an action — social or anti-social — is not determined by whether it is taken by one person or many, but by whether it is in resistance to the ruling establishment or is loyal to the rule of the capitalist 1%.
Delivered the peoples’ verdict: ‘Free CeCe!’
“Free CeCe Now!” I wrote, and that action derived power from the fact that the words are not mine alone. The message expresses a deeply felt, widespread, growing social demand.
I delivered the peoples’ verdict.
A jury of McDonald’s peers from the Twin Cities, across the U.S. and around the world — and you the reader — already know more information about what happened to CeCe and her friends that night than the prosecutor and judge would have allowed the courtroom jury to weigh.
Sixteen thousand people petitioned the prosecutor to drop the charges against CeCe McDonald. The prosecutor ignored that widespread demand.
Since she was sentenced on June 4, the demand “Free CeCe!” has appeared as resistance art: liberated billboards, tags and stencil art on walls and sidewalks, banner drops, words etched in drying cement on a New York City sidewalk.
In many, many marches of protest and pride — from Minneapolis to Bangalore, India — signs and posters and banners celebrate CeCe McDonald’s as a hero — a femme hera — and demand she be released from prison now.
The demand “Free CeCe!” has drawn together a broad united front against white supremacy and transphobic violence. Many supporters add: Self-defense is not a crime! Stop the war against transwomen of color! Abolish the racist prison-industrial complex!
I will declare in the court of the 1% that I am not guilty of any wrong-doing.
The city of Minneapolis is demanding I pay a fine for the erasure of the message, “Free CeCe now!” I will not retract that message by paying a fine.
Instead, Minnie Bruce Pratt and I will donate the exact amount I am fined to CeCe McDonald — who was ordered to pay $6,410 for the burial of the neo-Nazi who attacked her and her friends.
Restitution for the cost of rinsing off the political demand, “Free CeCe,” is a diversion from the profit “bailouts” for the 1%, and the immense social wealth being squandered on endless wars against workers and oppressed people around the world.
These wars — at home and abroad — only profit the 1%.
Youth need jobs, homes, health care, recreation — not white-supremacist, anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-woman violence, police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline and military-industrial complex.
United, it is possible to fight City Hall.
Help signal boost the peoples’ verdict — “Free CeCe!” Deliver that message to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and the city prosecutor — a mayoral political appointee:
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak — twitter: @MayorRTRybak; email: [email protected]; fax: (612) 673-2305; phone: (612) 673-2100.
Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal — email: [email protected]; fax: (612) 673-2189; phone: (612) 673-2010.
Special thanks to Minnie Bruce Pratt for her editing work to develop my earlier drafts into a trial statement.