“I'm so blessed to be alive to tell my story ...”
It’s been only five days since the Charlottesville violence occurred, and while many are still struggling to process the terrorism and fall out, less fortunate souls are coping with and recovering from injuries sustained during the demonstration.
Deandre Harris is a 20-year-old Charlottesville resident who, like so many others, appeared at the Unite the Right rally as a peaceful counter-protester. He offered an account of his assault to The Root:
“Me and about five of my friends were out protesting. We thought [the racists] left, but at one point they came back. Everyone was exchanging words with the group, but then the KKK and white supremacists just rushed us.”
His name may not be widely known, but his story is. He was the poor soul who drew the rage and malice of white supremacists armed with sticks and boards in this video, which quickly went viral in an attempt to identify the assailants.
Despite the graphic and troubling nature of the video, Harris was fortunate enough to emerge from the incident with his life. He was later treated in a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken wrist. He also chipped his tooth during the incident and received eight staples in his head.
20-year-old tells me he's lucky to be alive after he says he was nearly beat to death in a parking garage during th… https://t.co/lEpq7GLcrt— Joe Bruno (@Joe Bruno) 1502654835
To cover his medical expenses and other incidental costs from the assault, Harris established a GoFundMe page with a target of $50,000. He wrote on the page and shared a graphic image of his injuries (included below):
“On August 12th, 2017 there was a "Unite the Right" march of white nationalist and other right-wing groups (KKK, Neo-nazis, and white supremacists) that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. These individuals were protesting against the removal of local confederate monuments, primarily the Robert E. Lee Statue in Emancipation Park. I arrived at Emancipation Park around 11 AM as a counter-protester to voice my opinion on racial tensions and to literally stand up for what I believe in. I was only there for a few minutes before I was hit with water bottles, maced with pepper spray, and had derogoratoy slurs hurled at me. Just forty-five minutes in to the rally our Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency to aid state response to violence. About fifteen minutes or so after that I was brutally attacked by white supremacists in the parking garage right beside the Charlottesville Police Station. I was chased and beat with metal poles. I was knocked unconscious repeatedly. Every time I went to stand up I was knocked back down. VIDEO If it was not for my friends that I came with I would have been beaten to a pulp. No law enforcement stepped in to help me. Once I was dragged off to some near by steps I was taken to the designated area for injured protesters & counter-protesters. My injuries were too extensive to be treated at the scene so I was taken to the ER at Martha Jefferson Hospital. I was diagnsoed with a concussion, an ulnar fracture, and had to receive eight staples in my head. I also have a laceration across my right eyebrow, abrasions on my knees & elbows, and a chipped tooth. I'm so blessed to be alive to tell my story and to show the world that racism is very much still alive. The funds will be used to pay for my medical bills. I appreciate the support from my friends, family, and the news platforms that have reached out to check on me. We will not let this fade & disappear. People are carrying real hate in their hearts for the Black Community and I refuse to just let it happen. God Bless & thank you all again!”
Image via GoFundMe.
The effort quickly surpassed its goal, having reached more than $144,000 from 5,500 people in just three days. In addition to the practical effect of helping fund Harris’ medical costs, many are using the fundraiser as a show of support and vigilance against racially motivated violence.
dre harris who was brutalized by fascists has fundraised over $70k in 8 hrs for medical costs. we have numbers, power, and love on our side.— Naveed Mansoori (@Naveed Mansoori) 1502664098
It’s unlikely that Harris requires more than $100,000 to cover his medical costs, but in response to the intolerance and terrorism on display in Charlottesville, people are making statements in myriad ways. And with these donations, many are choosing to say “You can’t destroy this young man with your hate.”