Tomorrow, Corey Long and DeAndre Harris will appear in Charlottesville General District Court. Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania will prosecute false charges brought by white supremacists against two black community members.
When white supremacists descended on Charlottesville on August 12, Corey and DeAndre faced down the violent attack in acts of radical black resistance. At great personal risk, they defended our community from the forces of racial hatred and have become national icons as a result. However, little attention has been paid to the wrongful prosecution of their resistance (which begins in earnest tomorrow in court).
Corey and DeAndre are being charged for defending themselves and their city against the racist violence of August 12th enabled by law enforcement.
In an independent report of the city’s actions throughout this Summer of Hate, former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy detailed the many failings of law enforcement:
- two CPD captains expressed the fear that their officers lack the training or discipline to avoid murdering citizens in the chaos on A12 (p. 148, Hunton & Williams LLP)
- Major Gary Pleasants bragged about the use of teargas on protestors, despite the lack of authorization from then Chief of Police Al Thomas (p. 61, Hunton & Williams LLP)
- CPD empowered the violence instigated by white supremacists (p. 133, Hunton & Williams LLP)
The report concluded that Charlottesville police failed to protect the community on A12.
Of course, the City spent $350,000 to find out what anti-racist activists have been saying all along: police watched as white supremacists attacked community members. Police allowed the white supremacist violence to rage on. Civilians had no choice but to defend themselves. We cannot win back our city from racist terrorism while the we are prosecuted for self-defense, and white supremacists are allowed to walk free.
Should the charges against Corey and DeAndre be maintained, it will be not only a major failure of our legal system to uphold justice, but a tactic of fascism. Fascism takes over the institutions of democracy for its own ends. This is how fascism violently forces those most vulnerable into submission, criminalizing our rights to defend ourselves. This is how fascism punishes those who dare to expose or resist the violence of white supremacy. This is how the state squashes dissent. This is how the state colludes with white supremacy to continue the threat against black people in Charlottesville. If these charges are maintained, the city sends a clear message to its citizenry: we may not defend ourselves against future attacks.
This repression of counter-protest actually encourages white supremacists to commit another attack. If there are no consequences for white supremacists, what will prevent a future attack? If the state disproportionately targets black and anti-racist community members, what will prevent the next August 12?
We are inspired by our comrades north of us in Washington, D.C., where six protesters arrested at the January 20th inauguration were acquitted on all charges. We are inspired by our comrades south of us in Durham, North Carolina, where eight protesters arrested for tearing down a Confederate statue are going on trial this week. Though anti-racist activists everywhere are being repressed, we must not stop challenging white supremacy both within and outside of the state.
Charlottesville, we must be loud and clear: There can be no justice, no triumph against, and no healing from the terrorism we have experienced while Corey and DeAndre are criminally prosecuted for defending themselves and this city. The City’s Commonwealth Attorney must DROP THE CHARGES.
CALLS TO ACTION:
- Join us downtown tomorrow at 8:45 am outside the Charlottesville General District Court to support our city’s defenders and demand that the city #DropTheCharges! Bring a sign and a friend, and feel free to attend the hearings inside as a show of support.
- Call the Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney’s office at (434) 970–3176 and tell them: “To maintain these charges against those who defended themselves and their community on that day is SHAMEFUL. Drop the charges against Corey Long and DeAndre Harris.”
#Justice4Deandre #HandsOffCoreyLong #BlackLivesMatter