The Atlantic

The Defense That Failed White Nationalists

Marchers from last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville who attacked a black counter-protester made a claim that has often worked for police officers: They acted in self-defense.
Source: Zach Roberts / AP

The photographs of the beating show DeAndre Harris curled up in a ball on the floor of a parking lot trying to protect his face and body as the men around him, some armed with boards or pipes, strike him repeatedly. The men beating Harris were there to attend the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville last August, where one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed when a car drove into the crowd. Harris, who survived the beating with eight staples in his skull, might have been the second.

To an uninformed observer, the picture may look like an image of mob violence. But to many of the men beating Harris and their attorneys, it shows something else: Men acting in

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min readTech
It’s a Winner-Take-All World, Whether You Like It or Not
Not long ago, I reached out to a writer I respec, and posed the uncomfortable question authors find themselves forced to ask: Would she write a blurb—the endorsement you see on the back cover—for my new book about how a person can navigate a career i
The Atlantic6 min read
Tip Your Hotel Maid
My grandmother worked in housekeeping for 10 years—and it’s a job where you could use a gratuity.
The Atlantic10 min read
This Isn’t Going According to Plan for Kirsten Gillibrand
The senator from New York is a battle-tested campaigner who thrives as the underdog. But 2020 is proving to be a much tougher challenge than she thought.