Feinberg is convicted but walks free saying 'Free CeCe'
By Minnie Bruce Pratt
February 4, 2013
Minneapolis — Transgender activist and author Leslie Feinberg declared
in court here on Feb. 4 that she/ze was “not guilty” on a charge of
third-degree gross misdemeanor (property damage) for spray-painting “Free
CeCe Now” on the walls and pillars of the courthouse/jail in
She/ze did it in solidarity with CeCe McDonald, an African-American
transwoman who survived a violent racist, transphobic attack on the streets of
South Minneapolis in June 2011, only to be jailed for manslaughter because she
and her friends fought back.
For having spray-painted the message, which Feinberg did not dispute, the
judge found hir “guilty,” and asked if she/ze had anything to say
“I am a revolutionary journalist and member of the National Writers
Union, UAW Local 1981,” said Feinberg. “I am not guilty of any
wrongdoing. I delivered the people’s verdict on the jailhouse walls. The
real crimes are going on behind the walls where CeCe McDonald is
“By sentencing CeCe McDonald to prison, Minneapolis sent a green light
to neo-fascists at a time of growing racist lynching and massacres in the U.S.
CeCe was attacked, and survived, at a time when an increasing number of
transwomen of color are being assaulted and murdered.
“Racist mass incarceration is the crime, as even a former Hennepin
County prosecutor admitted in an article — that Minnesota has the
greatest racist disparity in sentencing of any state in the U.S.
“The world is watching CeCe McDonald’s struggle. I’m proud
to add my voice to the tens of thousands of people who demand: ‘Free
The judge admitted that Feinberg’s deed was an act of “civil
The judge then stayed the imposition of any sentence for two years. During
that time, Feinberg is on informal probation, meaning that if she/ze is not
convicted of any additional “property damage” for 24 months, the
third-degree gross misdemeanor charge will be dismissed.
The prosecution did not pursue court expenses or a fine. Feinberg walked out
of the courtroom without having to perform community service or report to a
She/ze was ordered to pay more than $1,300 for the erasure of the political
demand from the wall. Feinberg stated after court, “I refuse to pay for
the censorship of the political demand, ‘Free CeCe Now!’”
Local Free CeCe organizers were present in the courtroom. Many of
McDonald’s supporters in the U.S. and around the world sent tweets,
e-mails, faxes and made phone calls to help deliver the people’s verdict
— ‘Free CeCe!’ — to the Minneapolis mayor and
For more information about CeCe McDonald, go to: