A white supremacist who brutally beat a black man in one of the defining scenes of the deadly Unite the Right rally last summer has been found guilty of malicious wounding. He’s now facing up to 10 years in prison.
During closing arguments at the Charlottesville Circuit Court Tuesday evening, the attorney for Jacob Scott Goodwin said his client was being unfairly maligned because he was white.
Goodwin went to the Charlottesville rally from Ward, Arkansas, clad in khakis, decked out in neo-Nazi symbology, and dressed for war, among hundreds of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, anti-Semites who descended on the college town in an event intended to unify the white nationalist movement in the United States.
“They want you to convict this man because he’s white,” Woodward told the jury, “and DeAndre [Harris] is a black man.”
The jury, with two black members, decided to convict.
Goodwin was in a group of six white supremacists who confronted DeAndre Harris, 20, in a parking garage and beat him with sticks, leaving him bloodied and lying on the floor. Video of the clash went viral and became a defining moment of last August’s violent events in the Virginia college town.
Goodwin maintained throughout the two-day trial that he was only defending himself from Harris, a 20-year-old former special ed teacher. “I thought he was a hostile… to be honest, I was terrified,” Goodwin testified. “I’d probably perish or be sent to the hospital and be terribly hurt.”
Harris sustained serious injuries, including a head laceration that required 10 staples, a spinal injury, a broken wrist, and a chipped tooth.
In the wake of that attack, Harris also withstood efforts by white supremacists turned online sleuths to discredit his account of events.
Members of League of the South, a neo-Confederate group that helped organize the rally, launched a campaign to reconstruct Harris’ version of events. Confident they’d compiled enough evidence to show that Harris instigated the brawl by lashing out at Harold Crews, one of their key members and a South Carolina-based lawyer, League leaders eventually filed a report with the Charlottesville Magistrate’s office (the police department and Commonwealth Attorney’s office weren’t interested).
The magistrate’s office issued a warrant for Harris’ arrest, and he was charged with felony assault, later downgraded to a misdemeanor. In March, Charlottesville Central District Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. ruled that Harris hadn’t intended to cause harm and was acting in self defense when he swung a flashlight at Crews.
Three other white supremacists are also facing charges in connection with the Harris case. Alex Michael Ramos, who is from Georgia, went to trial Wednesday. Tyler Watkins Davis from Florida and Daniel Borden from Ohio will be tried later this summer.