Vigil to demand Justice for DeAndre Harris

Thursday, 4:30–8:30pm, outside the Charlottesville General District Court

Black Lives Matter-Charlottesville, Congregate Charlottesville, Showing up for Racial Justice-Charlottesville and other local groups and community members will hold a Vigil this Thursday afternoon in front of the Charlottesville General District Courthouse to demand justice for DeAndre Harris. DeAndre’s vicious beating by a mob of white supremacists became one of the most widely recognized stories of the August 12th Unite the Right white supremacist Rally in Charlottesville, and yet this Friday, at 10:35 AM, DeAndre Harris will go on trial facing charges of misdemeanor assault that are based solely on the claims of his white supremacist assailants. The location for the Vigil highlights the close proximity of the parking garage where white supremacists brutally beat DeAndre Harris, and the courthouse where Commonwealth Attorney Joe Platania will prosecute criminal charges against Harris Friday morning.

Vigil to demand Justice for DeAndre Harris
Thursday, March 15, 4:30–8:30 pm
Charlottesville General District Court (606 E. Market St)

Statement from the Organizers:

After the vicious display of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, thousands of people across the country and the world were outraged by the video footage of white supremacists brutally beating a Black man, DeAndre Harris, in the Market Street garage. That video was shared thousands of times on the Internet and played over and over again on major news networks. It became one of the most widely recognized stories from August 12 in Charlottesville.

In the aftermath of August 12, members of the League of the South, a Neo-Confederate group on the SPLC’s extremist list, sought DeAndre’s arrest by providing personal statements to the Charlottesville police asserting that DeAndre instigated the altercation, but a warrant was not issued. Eventually, on October 9, a local magistrate conceded to issue the warrant on a felony charge of unlawful wounding (BEFORE warrants were issued for all of DeAndre’s attackers). DeAndre turned himself in and was released immediately without bail. The charge has since been downgraded to misdemeanor “assault and battery.”

This Friday, DeAndre Harris will go on trial as a defendant charged with misdemeanor assault against the same Nazis who brutally beat him. Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney, Joe Platania, has chosen to prosecute DeAndre, despite all of the glaring evidence that DeAndre was, in fact, the victim that day. If convicted, that decision would set a terrifying precedent for the rest of America. It would send the message to white supremacists that they can, in fact, weaponize the court system against Black people by inciting violence and then taking them to courts that will convict them.

Thursday’s Vigil is part of the ongoing DROP THE CHARGES campaign organized by local community groups urging Commonwealth Attorney Joe Platania to drop all charges against DeAndre Harris, Donald Blakney, and Corey Long, the three Black men facing criminal charges for defending themselves and their city from the white supremacist terror of August 12th.

The organizers of DROP THE CHARGES cite former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy’s Independent Review of the 2017 Protest Events in Charlottesville, Virginia, which concludes that state and local police failed to protect the people of Charlottesville from white supremacist violence on August 12th. Reverend Brittany Caine-Conley, an organizer with Congregate Charlottesville, commented:

“It was in the midst of this failure on the part of the police that DeAndre Harris and so many others were assaulted by white supremacists. Community members like DeAndre, Donald Blakney, and Corey Long showed up to use their legal and moral right to resist this white supremacist incursion. Yet, the city is now prosecuting these community members, on the basis of white supremacist allegations.”

The DROP THE CHARGES campaign states that prosecuting DeAndre Harris, as well as Corey Long and Donald Blakney, is not only unjust, but it perpetuates the dangerous “both sides” narrative. Lisa Woolfork, an organizer with Black Lives Matter-Charlottesville, explained:

“These charges are part of a broader strategy employed by white supremacists to weaponize the courts against Black people by first inciting violence, and then pressing charges. The verdict in DeAndre’s case, as well as the upcoming cases against Corey Long and Donald Blakney, will signal to white supremacists whether Charlottesville is a place where these tactics work. These court decisions will thus be critically important for the highly likely Unite the Right “reunion” in August 2018, telling white supremacists, with either support or censure from the courts, if they are free to unleash havoc in our community with a certain degree of immunity from the harm they cause.”

Grace Aheron, an organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice-Charlottesville, added:

“We hope that the Vigil will show the Charlottesville community’s widespread support for DeAndre Harris, and our outrage at his unjust treatment in the courts. DeAndre showed up to defend this community on August 12th; now it’s our turn to show up and defend him.”

Community members are also encouraged to come to Charlottesville General District Court for DeAndre’s trial, Friday March 16th at 10am.

Court Support flier for DeAndre’s trial: Justice For DeAndre. Fri March 16th 10am. Cville General District Court. 606 E Market St. #DropEmCville.

See previous community support for DeAndre Harris:

October 10: Cville Demands Justice for DeAndre

January 9: We Cannot Heal without Justice for DeAndre and Corey

March 5: Cville Demands Joe Platania Drop the Charges against DeAndre, Corey, and Donald

#JusticeForDeAndre #DropEmCville #CvilleShowsUp