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Photo Essay

Journalist Facing a Gun Captures a Viral Photo in Charlottesville

Journalist Facing a Gun Captures a Viral Photo in Charlottesville

Four white supremacists attacked black schoolteacher Deandre Harris with iron bars and lumber in a Charlottesville parking garage on Saturday. (Zach D. Roberts)

This article was first posted on Greg Palast’s website.

Don’t look away. Four white neo-Nazis are beating a black man, crawling on the ground, with their metal poles and a yellow hunk of lumber. The beating continues—there’s blood on the pavement.

Our photographer, Zach D. Roberts, continues to shoot, even as a white militant raises a 9mm pistol to his face.

Zach got a shot of the gun and gunman, too. Luckily, the gunman didn’t shoot back.

One photo has gone viral internationally. These others we bring you here because they must be seen. Including, for the first time, the gunman.

Welcome to Charlottesville, USA. Trump’s America, month eight.

A previously unreleased photo of white supremacists attacking Deandre Harris. (Zach D. Roberts)

The young victim is Deandre Harris, a special education teacher in Charlottesville.

According to the president, the violence was perpetrated on “many sides.” The only sides I see are the beaters and the beaten. Deandre on the ground with the alt-right storm troopers with weapons.

Zach D. Roberts is an investigative photojournalist who has been with the Palast investigations team for 11 years.

Here is Zach’s report.

Deandre Harris, the school teacher, was walking down the street with friends, trading taunts with the white supremacist demonstrators.

Harris’ jibes were hardly fighting words. “Go home! Leave town!” Locals like Harris resented the jack-ass invasion.

That’s when fists flew, and Harris was slammed by one of the white guys straight into a parking lot barrier so hard the yellow wooden arm broke.

Now Deandre fell to the ground, ‘alone, surrounded by all these white guys—and they started beating him with the poles that almost all the white supremacists were carrying.

In the photos, you can see one white guy picking up the yellow barrier arm and raising the three foot hunk of lumber high over his head before he brings it down on Deandre—who is being kicked by another white man’s boots while two others bring down metal rods on the prone man.

And no, that’s not a cop on the left in the photo—that’s a neo-Nazi in full riot gear. (Where were the cops? Good question: This parking garage is next to the Charlottesville police station.)

Deandre was saved when some gutsy young black men—with no weapons—ran into the underground garage, and the white posse scattered.

Except for one. The gunman.

The gunman. (Zach D. Roberts)

He pulled out what looks to be a 9mm pistol, maybe a Glock semi-automatic, and positioned himself to fire on the rescue squad. But then he heard the click of Zach’s camera, just three feet away, and realized he was getting photographed.

Simultaneously, Zach realized he’d left his bullet-proof vest in his car. (I’ll have that discussion with him later.)

In this strange stand-off, the camera proved mightier than the bullet. In his tiny little brain, the would-be shooter figured it would be wiser to quickly conceal the weapon and flee.

Deandre “ran into the garage’s staircase and collapsed bleeding profusely from the face.”

Zach waited with him and his protectors for half an hour but no ambulance arrived for him or the other people who were injured.

So, that’s the news from Trump’s USA. Nazis marching in the street, nuclear war with Korea, the “military option” for Venezuela. And it’s only Monday.

I was going to write about Korea, then Venezuela, but then the Armed Alt-Righteous exposed themselves to Zach’s lens.

The Virginia story is not over. We will be going back to Virginia on Sept. 9, to the capital, Richmond, to fight for the right for black folk to arm themselves with the one weapon these white punks fear most: the vote.

Between snapping photos of America gone mad, Zach has been working these past four years with me on a story of how Trump’s henchman, one Kris Kobach, now head of Trump’s so-called “Election Integrity Commission,” conceived of a secretive program to remove hundreds of thousands of black Americans from the voter rolls.

Virginia removed an astonishing 41,637 voters based on Kobach’s accusation they could have voted twice. Not one of the accused was arrested—but, you won’t be surprised to hear, the list of the “scrubbed” was filled with African-American names.

And Virginia is removing tens of thousands more with this Jim Crow tactic—despite a nominally Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe.

Virginia refused us their “scrub” lists. But Zach Roberts, by stellar investigative work, obtained a copy—half a million names in all—much to the state’s dismay. And those lists are every bit as obscenely racist and, in the long run, far more wounding, than the iron rods of the neo-Nazis.

So, thank you, Zach, for the photos that bear witness and inside documents that reveal their secret schemes.

For the rest of us, our job is simpler: not to look away.

Greg Palast is the director and Zach D. Roberts the associate producer of “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” a film about racial vote suppression and billionaires behind it.

Greg Palast
Contributor
Greg Palast has been called the "most important investigative reporter of our time -- up there with Woodward and Bernstein" (The Guardian). Palast has broken front-page stories for BBC Television Newsnight,…
Greg Palast

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