In spite of appearing in online videos making slurs and shooting into a group of Black people, lawyers for the men accused of an attack on a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest say their clients are not racists.
Four Minnesota men — Allen Scarsella, Joseph Backman, Nathan Gustavsson, and Daniel Macey — have been charged with shooting BLM activists who were camped in front of a police station to protest the shooting of Jamar Clark, a Black man who was allegedly shot while handcuffed. They are facing riot and assault with a dangerous weapon charges.
According to The Associated Press, lawyers for Macey and Joseph Backman said their clients did not hold racist views in a court hearing Tuesday.
“Mr. Macey is not a white supremacist. He is not a racist,” said Ryan Garry, his attorney. Macey is Asian and the other three defendants are white.
In a television interview Dave Backman, Joseph’s father, said his son was an Eagle Scout, who was “raised right.”
“He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body,” said Dave Backman in an interview with WCCO-TV. “He’s a very kind person.”
However, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was dismissive of attempts to paint the defendants as innocent young men.
“The defendant’s’ own statements, their videos, show that these are sick people,’” said Freeman in a Daily Mail story. “Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but the language they use, and what they say about fellow Americans, citizens, are just not acceptable.”
Of the four defendants, Scarsella faces the most serious charges. He has been charged with one count of riot and five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. The Associated Press said his bail hearing has been postponed until next month.
Raw Story reported that Hennepin County District Judge Hilary Lindell Caligiuri set Scarsella’s bail at $500,000. He currently remains in jail. The other men’s bail was set at $250,000. Macey was allowed to have a conditional bail of $100,000. Joseph Backman posted bond and was released on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Judith Hawley requested high bail because the defendants remain a threat to the community.
“There’s an immense public safety risk and danger that these defendants have shown in this case,” said Hawley.
Even though Scarsella was seen in an online video using the phrase “stay white,” and shot into a crowd of five Black people, he is not facing murder or hate crimes charges.
Wesley Martin, who was shot in the knee, attended the hearing. He didn’t think the charges were stiff enough. Martin’s brother Tevin King remains in hospital after being shot in the stomach.
Martin said Scarsella “should have gotten charged with way more stuff.”
“He was shooting to make a point,” Martin told The AP. “That basically black lives don’t matter.”