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

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