In June 2011, McDonald was walking to a grocery in Minneapolis with friends when McDonald claimed a man and two women began verbally harassing them with racist and homophobic slurs.
“Oh you fa**ots, you ni**er lovers, and whoop-de-woo, you ain’t nothing but a bunch of ni**ger babies,” Larry Tyaries Thomas, one of McDonald’s friends, recalled one of the assailants saying to them during a police interview.
Thomas claims he approached Dean Schmitz, the man in the group.
“I backed into the middle of the street, drop my belt like I am ready to fight. He just walk[ed] off. And that’s when he started talking this stuff, like, ‘Oh, look at the tranny over there, look at that tranny,'” Thomas said, according to City Pages.
One of the women then threw a glass at McDonald, hitting her in the face and causing a deep laceration on her cheek.
“I’ll take all three of you bit**es on!” Molly Flaherty, Schmitz’s ex-girlfriend, allegedly screamed, according to Jenny Thoreson, who accompanied the two.
Eventually, Schmitz and McDonald moved into the street. During their confrontation, McDonald, who witnesses said was holding a blade, fatally stabbed Schmitz.
“When the police arrived it wasn’t hard to for them to assume who the aggressors were–surely, for them, it had to have been the group of black kids who started all this drama,” McDonald wrote on her blog, Support CeCe McDonald!, about the experience.
Claiming self-defense in the stabbing, McDonald eventually plead guilty to reduced second-degree murder and received 41 months imprisonment in May 2012. Supporters and members of the transgender community rallied for McDonald, arguing she was protecting herself from a hate crime
“She was prosecuted for surviving a violent, racist, transphobic attack,” McDonald’s page wrote about the case. The page also confirmed her impending release:
“The rumors are true: CeCe is scheduled to be released from prison in January. She will wait and write a public statement about her release after she gets out of prison, because she wants to tell you all in her own words and own time. She would like to spend her first days out in privacy, with people she feels close to. Again, information about her release will be shared when CeCe feels it is the right time to do so. In the meantime, she and her support committee ask everyone to be patient.”
The early release is apparently for time served and time off McDonald’s sentence for her good behavior.