CeCe McDonald released from prison Monday morning [VIDEO]

CeCe McDonald's supporters at a pre-trial "dance for justice" rally in April 2012.
CeCe McDonald's supporters at a pre-trial "dance for justice" rally in April 2012.
Jayme Halbritter

In a shaky video shot on Monday morning, there's CeCe McDonald: wearing a blue hoodie, riding a friend's back, and walking out of prison.

"Welcome back!" the friend holding the camera tells McDonald. "Thank you!" McDonald exclaims, grinning, as she approaches the parking lot.

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After serving 19 months of a 41-month sentence, McDonald, who is a transgender woman, was released from the all-male correctional facility at St. Cloud today. She'll remain under supervision until February 2015, according to the state Department of Corrections.

McDonald pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter after fatally stabbing Dean Schmitz in a street fight, back in June 2011. But her case electrified supporters locally and internationally, who argued that McDonald had been defending herself against a racist and transphobic hate crime.

Those supporters have stayed with McDonald through her sentence, first fighting for her to serve her time in a female prison and then, when that failed, continuing to visit, send packages, and spread her story. The actor Laverne Cox, best known for her role on the Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black, is at work on a documentary about McDonald's case.

"When the case happened, there was... support and concern about the outrage of violence against trans people and hate speech against trans people, and I think in some ways a movement was created," says Michael Friedman, the director of the Legal Rights Center, which represented McDonald. "That didn't stop just because she had to go to jail."

Now that she's free, McDonald plans to spend several days settling in, and then celebrating her release with a welcome home party on Saturday.

Meanwhile, her supporters have taken to Twitter today with the hashtag #BecauseOfCeCe:

CeCe McDonald released from prison Monday morning [VIDEO]

Here's the video of McDonald leaving prison:

For the trip home, McDonald rode with Cox sitting next to her:

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