By Greg Palast with Zach D. Roberts for Truthout
We can’t make this up: African-American school teacher DeAndre Harris, victim of a beating by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville in August, has been — ready for this? — charged with assaulting the white supremacists who beat him with boards, iron rods, and brass knuckles.
That is correct. Harris, in photos released by Truthout and carried worldwide, was shown being beaten close to death — has now been charged with the same crime as his attackers: “unlawful wounding”.
Several of Harris’ attackers remain on the run — and local and federal officials show little interest in going after them. Yet, a Charlottesville magistrate issued a warrant to arrest Harris yesterday, October 9.
Harris is accused of taking a swing at a neo-Nazi who tried to stab a friend of Harris’ with the staff of a flag pole holding a Confederate flag.
It should be noted that our photographer, Zach D. Roberts, was also attacked with what appears to be a wooden flagstaff by a man identified as Dan Borden of Cincinnati, one of those charged in the attack on Harris.
White supremacist Borden, hours before attacking Harris, threw the metal-tipped wood at photographer Roberts’ head. Our photographer remained calm enough to photo the weapon as it whizzed by his head.
A magistrate judge, without talking to witness Roberts, issued a warrant, according to Lee Merritt, DeAndre’s attorney, apparently on the complaint of lawyers for the white nationalists.
Roberts, for Truthout, spoke with Merritt, a legal specialist on police brutality and corruption. Merritt stated:
“This is probably the most extreme case I’ve seen. Not only is [the victim] charged with a crime but he’s charged at the same level as the men who broke his bones, who caused serious bodily injuries, caused him to get 18 staples in his head… the men who beat him with in an inch of his life. [Harris] is getting the same charge as [those] involved in a violent supremacist group who were involved in attacks, not only of DeAndre, but attacks of other people all weekend.”
Charlottesville police have charged two of Harris’ attackers, but only after a national campaign led by the New York Daily News. One of the charged, Dan Borden, is shown here beating Harris with a four-foot piece of lumber. The other, Michael Ramos of Georgia, who claims he acted in self-defense, is shown striking the Harris with brass knuckles while Harris is crawling helpless on the ground.
On August 14, US Attorney General Sessions said that neo-Nazi brutality in Charlottesville was the Justice Department’s top priority. “There’s no bigger case right now we’re working on.”
So far, have federal authorities taken no action to identify the man holding what appears to be a 9mm Glock semi-automatic handgun threatening Harris despite high-resolution photos supplied by Roberts to the FBI.
Crossing state lines with intent to cause harm is a federal offense. Nevertheless, direct pleas to FBI agents by this reporter have failed to get Justice Department action to charge Harris attackers and Roberts’ assailant with these crimes.
Days after the attack, one FBI agent assigned to the investigation told Truthout he was “appalled” by the lack of immediate response to Roberts’ offer of photos to identify Harris’ attackers, but insisted the Department would act. As of today, two months on, there is no sign Sessions’ Department has moved to identify nor apprehend Harris’ attackers.
Photos by Zach D. Roberts, © 2017.
Before turning to journalism as an investigative reporter for The Guardian and BBC Television, Greg Palast was an investigator of fraud and racketeering for governments and labor unions worldwide. His investigations have appeared in Rolling Stone, Harper’s and New Statesman. Known as the reporter who exposed how Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush purged thousands of Black voters from Florida rolls to steal the 2000 election for George Bush. Palast has written four New York Times bestsellers, including Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, now out as major non-fiction movie: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of the Stolen Election (the brand new, updated, post-election edition).
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