This morning I have some good news and some bad news. And for my own sanity, I’m gonna start with the good news.
Earlier this week the Charlottesville Police let me know that they issued an arrest warrant for Jacob Scott Goodwin – one of the five men who brutally assaulted DeAndre Harris two months ago. Alongside a team of volunteers, it took us nearly 45 days to identify Jacob Goodwin and track him down ourselves. Every white supremacist who has been arrested so far in this attack was identified and found by us. After the Charlottesville Police told us they issued the arrest warrant for Goodwin, they asked me not to announce it because they believed it would make it harder to find him if he knew.
Well, police in his home state of Arkansas found and arrested him for felony assault early yesterday morning. He is currently in jail in Arkansas and will soon be extradited back to Virginia. Goodwin is a notorious Neo-Nazi and white supremacist and was actually the first person to assault DeAndre.
That’s the good news. The announcement for us, though, was bittersweet, because the unthinkable also happened. Earlier this week we learned what we sincerely thought was a practical joke at first. An arrest warrant was issued for DeAndre Harris. I spoke a little bit about this warrant on the air this past Tuesday here on the show, but I want to unpack just how outrageous this warrant truly is.
After I was off the air on Tuesday, the Charlottesville Police Department wrote me to tell me that they had absolutely nothing to do with the warrant against DeAndre Harris and were completely shocked by it themselves. We’ve since had a crash course in just how broken the justice system is in Virginia.
A white supremacist from Virginia named Harold Crews was actually beaten up in Charlottesville. We’ve shared the video. He was indeed struck across the head, then punched repeatedly, by two white counter-protestors. When this assault happened, DeAndre Harris was already critically injured and on his way to the hospital.
Harold Crews knows full well that DeAndre Harris didn’t cause these injuries and was not a part of the group that assaulted him. The Charlottesville Police know this. So when Harold Crews went to the Charlottesville Police to report that DeAndre Harris caused his injuries, they were baffled. They knew it wasn’t true. And communicated to him that they’d investigate it themselves and get back to him.
Well, in Virginia, any citizen is allowed to go what they call a magistrate, which is kind of like a judge, but more like what some places call a “justice of the peace,” to report a crime and that magistrate can issue an arrest warrant. Well, after the Charlottesville Police and local prosecutors refused to press charges against DeAndre Harris, the local magistrate, without conducting any investigation or speaking to any witnesses, without seeing the actual video of this man being assaulted by two other white people, issued the arrest warrant for DeAndre Harris primarily off of the strength of the white supremacist saying DeAndre assaulted him.
I’ve seen a lot of outrageous stuff in my days of fighting for justice and I swear this ranks at or near the top of the list. We’ve worked around the clock to have these ignorant charges dropped, but later today, DeAndre Harris, in the presence of his attorneys and family, is going to turn himself into police.
While we believe these charges will eventually be dropped, this system has failed him. He is a victim, and only a victim, in this entire ordeal. We are appalled that it has come to this, but we should’ve known that this system would never have allowed us to bring so many white men to justice without a wrinkle. We truly believe this offensive arrest of DeAndre is retaliation for how we have embarrassed Charlottesville by finding and locating and pressing for justice for his attackers ourselves.
America has a long, ugly history of attempting to criminalize black victims of white violence – making it out like they deserved what they got – from Emmett Till to Rodney King to Tamir Rice to Sandra Bland. None of them, for a single moment, deserved an ounce of what they experienced, but the system has always refused to simply hold those who beat, maimed, or killed us accountable.
Let me quickly pivot and tell you something we are working on building. We have to go on the offense. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m frustrated at having to be so reactionary to injustice in America. A team of us are forming a new legal initiative, kind of like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, but more like a Legal Offense Fund, so that we can proactively fight for justice, for reforms, and for new solutions to the problems that continue to plague us. We’re working to build it behind the scenes right now and will let everybody know when it launches sometime over the next month.
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