White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. After clashes with anti-fascist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering. CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES

Alt-right says new video shows self-defense in Charlottesville assault

A five-second video circulating on the internet shows Charlottesville, Va., resident DeAndre Harris swing a club or flashlight toward a white nationalist marcher in a tussle with another man over a flag.

Alt-right activists are claiming the video is proof that Harris was the aggressor and that they were protecting themselves when they surrounded and beat him, a scene caught in another video shortly thereafter. Cobb County resident Michael Ramos is one two suspects facing felony charges related to the beating.

An undated photo provided by law enforcement authorities of Alex Michael Ramos, a suspect in the beating of an African-American protesting the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Ramos is charged with malicious wounding in the attack on DeAndre Harris, an event that was captured on video and widely shared on social media. (Monroe County Sheriff’s Office via The New York Times)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Both videos were taken during the Aug. 12 “Unite The Right” rally which drew hundreds of white supremacists and other extreme right activists to the college town. The activists have been under fire for the violence that marked the rally, which is why the video of Harris is so important to them, said Marilyn Mayo, a senior research fellow with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

“For white supremacists, they feel like they are being misrepresented and that they are the victims here and were just defending themselves,” she said. It’s a tough sell, since large numbers right-wing activists arrived in the city wearing body armor and helmets and carrying weapons, she said.

“They went to Charlottesville prepared to fight,” she said.

Read more in this week’s AJC Watchdog column here.

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