DeAndre Harris, the African-American man brutally beaten by a group of white nationalists at last summer’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, has been cleared of misdemeanor assault and battery charges.
Harris, who was found not guilty by a Charlottesville court Friday, faced charges stemming from an alleged altercation with a white nationalist protester prior to the beating. Footage of the violent attack went viral in the days following the intense rally, which was originally called to defend monuments honoring Confederate war generals.
Harris was initially charged with a felony, but that was later reduced to a misdemeanor, according to AlJazeera. News of the charges against Harris drew outrage among fellow activists who called for them to be dismissed.
Harris’ defense lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense, highlighting the absurdity of a Black man in the middle of a white supremacist rally being charged with assault and battery on his attackers.
“…These men were victims of hate crimes all day long,” Grace Aheron, one of the activists who organized a vigil outside the court where Harris appeared, told Al Jazeera. “They were spat upon. They saw Nazi flags.”
Four of Harris’ attackers have been charged.