Tragically, we are living in a time when the punishment is determined by the color of one’s skin instead of the magnitude of their crime.
It has been over a week since white supremacists took to the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of Confederate monuments, most notably the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in the city’s Emancipation Park. The marchers held tiki torches and shouted racial slurs and slogan of white power as they clashed with counter-protesters who gathered to take a stand against bigotry and prejudice.
The so-called “Unite the Right” rally turned violent as soon as it began. Members of the "alt-right" and neo-Nazi groups attacked anti-racist activists across the city, beating them with torches, metal poles and whatnot.
Deandre Harris was one of such victims. The 20-year-old African American arrived in Charlottesville to voice his opinion on the racial tensions that have gripped the country for the past several months. However, shortly after he got there, people hit him with water bottles and screamed racial slurs at him.
Later, a group of white supremacists brutally assaulted him in a parking lot of a police station.
The entire scene was caught on video and posted on several social media sites. Photos of the incident showed the young man, bloody and bruised, lying on the ground as neo-Nazis beat him up.
Twitter users, including civil rights activist Shaun King, not only shared the clip but also managed to identify some of the assailants, but to no avail.
8 full days later, nothing. No arrests. No arrest warrants. Nothing at all.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017
This is a new injustice in and of itself. Shame on everyone. https://t.co/ehLyiLvKYK
The Charlottesville Police Department identified former Mason High School student Dan Borden as a person of interest, but has not charged him as of writing this.
However, King claimed he is the one who first identified Border along with a couple of other white extremists.
What we learned about Dan Borden - who is one of the men we identified in the assault of Deandre Harris.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017
Been a bigot since junior high. pic.twitter.com/Pfn5lv7SMS
1. I have never falsely identified any Nazi's or white supremacists in Charlottesville. We have a 12 layer verification process.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017
2. Both the @FBI and local police have reached out to me to help them in the investigation into Deandre's attackers. I sent them everything.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017
3. We correctly identified Dan Borden and Michael Alex Ramos three days before the first media outlet admitted it was indeed them. pic.twitter.com/xD1Vn3kCPU— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017
4. I have combed through nearly 5,000 photos, videos, blogs, etc. on these three men and have not yet named them until we are 100% sure. pic.twitter.com/C343l7xjzj— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017
In a previous tweet, he wrote, “We've provided authorities: 7 videos. 142 images. 2 confirmed identities. 1 address. 7 days later, NO ARRESTS.”
Harris, who is recovering from injuries including a gash on his head, split lip, a broken wrist and a chipped tooth, is still reportedly receiving threats and messages of hate.
"I'm on my knees just getting beat with poles and signs and being kicked and hit," he told WRAL, recalling the assault. "It's crazy."
His attorney, Lee Merritt, said authorities have “more than enough evidence” to issue an arrest warrant, but they have not issued one so far.
“They took something away from him that he is never going to get back. And that's to feel comfortable wherever he goes,” his mother, Felicia Harris, told the New York Daily News. “Deandre never had any fear about ever going anywhere or walking around. That personality that he has? Everybody loves Deandre ... But now it's like he's so bottled up to where he does not want to speak or talk to people.”
It is unclear why police have not made any arrests despite the overwhelming photo and video evidence, but one thing is certain: Had this been a group of black kids assaulting a white man, the situation would have been extremely different.
It’s this systemic racism that emboldens white supremacists to do as they please, and if this attitude isn’t curbed soon, it has the potential of turning into an epidemic — just like police brutality.
A GoFundMe page set up for Harris has raised $166,175 despite the total goal being $50,000.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Joshua Roberts