On June 5, 2021, CeCe McDonald and friends were assaulted in Minneapolis by a group of white-supremacist, swastika-wearing, anti-LGBTQ+ thugs. One of these slashed McDonald with a broken glass; and in the fight that followed, he died. McDonald was arrested, tried and sent to jail for defending her life and the lives of her friends — and surviving. Feinberg wrote the following article, published by Workers World, Dec. 7, 2012, and excerpted here, to rally international support to “Free CeCe!”

At certain moments in history, the struggle of individuals to survive and organize against fascist attacks, police and prison terror sharply reveals the societal relationship of forces — between oppressor and oppressed, exploiter and exploited. These battles inspire unity and action that help shape and define political eras — like the demands to free the Scottsboro Brothers, Lolita Lebron, Leonard Peltier, George Jackson, Joann Little, Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The struggle to “Free CeCe!” has sparked a growing, broad united front against white supremacy and anti-trans violence.

CeCe McDonald touches hands with Leslie Feinberg, WW managing editor, author and LGBTQ leader, through the plexiglass barricade during a visit in April 2012.
WW photo: Leslie Feinberg

Stop the war on trans/women of color!

It is no metaphor to say that there is a war against trans/women of color in the U.S. — on the streets and in the prisons.

Here are the names of some of those who lost their lives to anti-trans lynchings in cities across the U.S. in 2012:

Brandy Martell. Paige Clay. Kyra Kruz. Deoni Jones. Tracy Johnson. Tyrell Jackson. Rosita Hidalgo. Coko Williams. Kendall Hampton. Tiffany Gooden. Dee Dee Pearson. Githe Goines. Brenting Dolliole. Janette Tovar. Cassidy Vickers.

When a trans person is murdered, often police and monopoly media don’t investigate or report the deaths. Killers, largely unsought, walk free. Therefore little is known about any possible links between these murders or any connections the killers had/have with neofascist groups, police or military.

CeCe McDonald fought and survived a group fascist attack. She is hailed as a hero — a femme hera — in many communities in the U.S. and around the world.

The continued punishment of CeCe McDonald by police, prosecutor, judge and prison warden is a green light to neofascists — on the streets and in schools, police precincts, prisons and detention centers.

‘Cops and Klan work hand in hand’

Police and prison guard brutality against trans people also goes largely unreported by officials and monopoly media.

Journalist Marc Lamont Hill wrote in Ebony magazine: “According to studies, 38% of Black trans people indicate that they have been harassed by the police. Even worse, 20% state that they have been physically or sexual assaulted by police.”

Hill continued, “[T]rans individuals are subjected to prison sentences, during which they will be labeled and treated as a gender rather than their own. Such a practice, if done to straight cisexual individuals, would clearly be understood and challenged as torture.” (ebony.com)

CeCe McDonald wrote from St. Cloud prison [in 2012]: “I would have rather been punished for asserting myself than become another victim of hatred.”

CeCe McDonald’s assertion, and her self-defense, are historically rooted in the right — the necessity — to fight back against Nazi, Klan and other white-supremacist, fascist terror.

‘Who’s gonna stop the Klan?’

It wasn’t moral persuasion that overturned the Southern slavocracy on the North American continent. It took many hard-fought, bloody battles.

The “legal” system of enslavement was rocked by “illegal” uprisings and resistance by enslaved and self-emancipated African laborers, like Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth.

Freedom fighters — Black and white together — carried out a guerrilla raid on the U.S. Army arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. They hoped to liberate and distribute weapons and spark insurrectionary uprising against the white-supremacist slavocracy.

After the Civil War, the former Southern plantation owners created and armed the Klan as a weapon of terror and murder.

WWP founder Sam Marcy wrote. “[T]he durability of the Klan rests on solid long-term bonds to the [capitalist] state, and the two share a common political ideology, for the most part.” (“The Klan & the Government: Foes or Allies,” workers.org/marcy)

Marcy emphasized that after the Civil War, “The Northern industrialists and bankers were more interested in reaching a compromise with the ex-slaveowners than with the newly freed slaves.

“The U.S. government capitulated to the Southern planters and ex-slaveowners after the period of Reconstruction, when it withdrew federal troops from the South without establishing an independent citizens’ militia composed of the Black people and poor whites.”

Marcy continued, “[That] left them politically defenseless and deprived the Black population of economic power by failing to grant the newly emancipated people the land which they had tilled for centuries. . . .

“It was in this period that lynchings, the most barbarous form of counterrevolutionary terror, became the hallmark of the reactionary attempt to keep the Black people in semi-bondage,” Marcy concluded.

‘We’re gonna stop the Klan!’

Ever since the violent dismantling of revolutionary Black Reconstruction after the Civil War, the police, in large numbers, have been called out to protect the right of white supremacists and fascists to assemble and publicly make their call for racist genocide.

When police attack, their force is always directed at those protesting the Klan.

Over the decades, millions have taken to the streets in movements for national liberation and immigrant worker rights, against white supremacy, patriarchal class rule and anti-LGBTQ+ oppressions.

These have answered which social force has the ability and willingness to fight white-supremacist, lynchlaw terror — chanting in unison: “We’re gonna stop the Klan!”

The demand to “Free CeCe McDonald!” defends the right to organize and fight back against white-supremacist, anti-trans, anti-woman violence — on the streets, and in jails and prison cells.

Painting a wall for CeCe McDonald.

McDonald, threatened with years in prison, was sentenced to 41 months and released after 19 months due to international organizing. Feinberg, arrested in Minneapolis for June 4, 2012, civil disobedience in defense of McDonald, was tried and found guilty on Sept. 4, 2013, and sentenced to “time served.” See Feinberg’s reporting on the campaign at workers.org.

Sources: The Root, theroot.com; transrespect-transphobia.org; The Guerrilla Angel Report, lexiecannes.wordpress; and supportcece.wordpress.com.

Leslie Feinberg and Mirinda Crissman

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Leslie Feinberg and Mirinda Crissman

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