Zach D. Roberts' Account -- Witness to De’Andre Harris's Horrific Beating in Charlottesville

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De’Andre Harris assaulted. Photo: Zach D. Roberts

Google Maps still lists the Charlottesville park, where I was first pepper sprayed this weekend, as “Lee Park.” The city disagrees, saying that it’s now Emancipation Park.

Either way – the massive statue of Confederate War General Robert E. Lee still towers over the park, which today is filled with grown men wearing hockey gear and holding home made shields that a 12-year-old LARPer would be ashamed of. This is, or least was supposed to be, the “Unite the Right” rally. At my other job I cover comic book conventions, and my first impressions of this rally reminded me of those conventions just a bit too much to take seriously.

But then there’s the tear gas… And the home made weapons… And the real weapons, like AR-15’s and Glock 9mm’s… None of that would be allowed into the San Diego Comic Con.

But here I am in the middle of a park named after a guy that fought for the right of Southerners to keep human beings as slaves, and there are a couple hundred people screaming about why this statue needs to stay. They’re claiming that its removal is all part of a plan to erase the history of the white people…

I’m white, and that’s not my history. But if it was, I’d WANT it erased, or at least not memorialized. Less than three hours later I would witness something that I hoped was left in the waste bin of American history: In this ‘post-racial’ America I witnessed De’Andre Harris, a young black man, kicked and beaten nearly to death by racist goons.

No, the terrorist attack on peaceful counter protesters Saturday in Charlottesville was not an isolated incident. Anyone who says that is lying to you. They’re trying to cover for something that has been seething with hatred in the putrid shadows of America.

My skin was burning from something sprayed on me earlier in the day as I followed a march of white supremacists. (There’s a metaphor there, but I’m too tired right now to write creatively about it.) After the tiki torch rally Friday night, my entire body ached from trying to keep up with fascists in comfortable shoes. As the white supremacists marched down Market Street, members of the community shared their opinions of the white men – yelling at them, “Not in our town!,” “You’re not welcome here, go home!” Those marching responded with accusations of them being the “reason” for the “death of the white race.”

De’Andre and his friends were marching too. Walking along side, they were yelling for the rally members to go home. They got racial epithets as responses. It was going fine… well as fine as something like this can go – until something out of my vision happened and everyone started running. I followed De’Andre who was clearly already hurt and getting chased by nearly a dozen white supremacists.

De’Andre Harriss, a young man who works as an assistant special education teacher in Charlottesville, was slammed with shield into the parking arm of the Market Street garage and landed hard. This is when he says he lost consciousness. Seconds later, he woke to fists, clubs and boots. Trying to get up and flee to safety, he was knocked to the ground again by the white terrorists that were attacking him for one reason and one reason: De’Andre is black.

For the rest of the account including photographs please see NationofChange

 

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