DeAndre Harris Found Not Guilty — Statement from Charlottesville Organizers

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DeAndre Harris is one of three African-American Charlottesville locals who were charged in the wake of the neo-Nazi ‘Unite the Right’ rally on August 12th, 2017, that ended in the death of Heather Heyer.

Harris in particular was charged after neo-Nazis were able to successfully lobby a judge to have a warrant drawn up for his arrest, despite the fact that Harris himself was brutally beaten by members of the Alt-Right. What follows is a statement from local Charlottesville organizers on his charges being dropped.

This young black man beaten by white supremacists on August 12th should never have been charged with a crime in the first place. See coverage from The Root, Al Jazeera, and Solidarity Cville for background information on this case and the ongoing community support for DeAndre.

Statement from the Organizers of the Drop The Charges Campaign

DeAndre Harris’ acquittal today shows he never should have been charged with a crime in the first place. On August 12, people across the country were outraged at the footage of DeAndre being viciously beaten by white supremacists in a Charlottesville parking garage while police did nothing. We were further outraged when DeAndre was charged with a crime based on the testimony of the same white supremacists who attacked him.

Commonwealth Attorney Joe Platania should heed the decision of the court today and stop prosecuting Black people for asserting their humanity in the face of a white supremacist attack. Platania must stop cooperating with white supremacists and drop the charges against Corey Long and Donald Blakney, the two other Black men he is prosecuting for similar reasons. We cannot let our government be used to further the fascist agenda.

— Black Lives Matter-Charlottesville, Congregate Charlottesville, Showing up for Racial Justice-Charlottesville and other local groups and community members

Individual comments

“This is a great victory for DeAndre, the Charlottesville community, and everyone willing to resist the rising tide of white supremacy. The verdict shows that the white supremacist tactic of marching into a community, inciting violence, and later pressing charges against those who defend themselves will not work here. It should not work anywhere. The partnership that these white supremacists believed they had with the judicial system has been dissolved. We hope for dismissal of the spurious charges against the other two black men who defended themselves when police abdicated their responsibility to protect them.”

— Lisa Woolfork, organizer with Black Lives Matter-Charlottesville

“DeAndre was brutally beaten by white supremacists, right here in the Market Street garage. It was right next to the police station, and the police did nothing. Joe Platania should never have allowed white supremacists to continue to harass DeAndre through the court system in the first place.”

— Reverend Brittany Caine-Conley, organizer with Congregate Charlottesville

“Fascism takes over by using weakened institutions of liberal democracy — and that is EXACTLY what the white supremacists were trying to do by using Joe Platania to press criminal charges against DeAndre Harris. We must continue to show them, as we did today, that it won’t work.”

— Nina Zinsser Booth, organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice-Charlottesville

“It is fully within Joe Platania’s power as Commonwealth Attorney to drop the charges — but he is choosing not to. He is choosing to side with white supremacists against black men from our own community. If Platania doesn’t see that he has choices, he’s lying to himself so he can sleep at night.”

— Ben Doherty, organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice-Charlottesville

“Platania said in his campaign that he wanted to help our community heal from the white supremacist terror of August 12. We cannot heal until we right the wrongs against Corey and Donald as well. No unity without justice; no healing without reparations. We will continue to support all three men and show them we will not let fascism win in Charlottesville.”

— Reverend Seth Wispelwey, organizer with Congregate Charlottesville

“If Platania’s campaign promises were true in any way, DeAndre Harris wouldn’t have been on trial and none of these charges would be standing. Platania should be focused on holding white supremacists accountable, instead of pursuing charges against members of our community targeted by white supremacists.”

— Samantha Peacoe, organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice-Charlottesville

“To say that DeAndre was in any way a threat to public safety was a slap in the face to everyone in our community who endured the trauma of August 12. The next step is to immediately drop the charges against Corey Long and Donald Blakney.”

— Grace Aheron, organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice-Charlottesville


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