As communities across the United States enact or expedite plans to take down monuments revering those who advocated for white supremacy and slavery, police in Durham, North Carolina have arrested four people for their alleged roles in toppling a statue of a Confederate soldier.
Meanwhile in Charlottesville, Virginia—where white supremacists and neo-Nazis violently demonstrated over the weekend—police have yet to arrest anyone for viciously beating Deandre Harris, a 20-year-old black man, even though photo and video footage of five white men assaulting Harris has been virally circulated on social media and televised news for several days.
Harris and his friends—who helped him escape the violent attack to seek medical attention—were in the area to protest a gathering of white supremacists who were demonstrating at Emancipation Park in response to the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
“They were beating me with poles. I have eight staples in my head, a broken wrist and a chipped tooth,” Harris told The Root.
“The beating happened right beside the Police Department, and no police were there to help me at all. My mother is now thinking about suing the city of Charlottesville,” Harris added.
While reporting indicates police may have some leads in the assault on Harris, no arrests have been made or charges filed.
“Despite widespread internet video footage of the beating,” the New York Daily News reported Wednesday, “not a single suspect was in custody three days after the bloody assault.”
Harris’s beating has been broadcast for the world to see, but the inaction by law enforcement was not limited to this case. Even though city and state officials spent weeks preparing for the demonstrations, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe eventually declared a state of emergency to shut down demonstrations Saturday, dozens of people were injured and 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed.
As reporters on the ground for ProPublica reported: “The police did little to stop the bloodshed. Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York State, wearing body armor and desert camo, played a more active role in breaking up fights.”
Many people turned to Twitter to encourage members of the public to help identify the men in the video—which has produced some possible leads—but also to express frustration with the disparity between how law enforcement has responded to five men beating Harris in Charlottesville, and the protesters who took down the statue in Durham.
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