Two men were convicted this week in the beating of a black man near a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August.
Alex Ramos, 34, and Jacob Goodwin, 23, were found guilty of malicious wounding in their attack on Deandre Harris, a 20-year-old black man. Ramos and Goodwin were among a group of six attackers who surrounded Harris in a parking garage near the Unite the Right rally and beat him with pipes and planks. Footage of the attack went viral, alongside other images of violence at the rally, including footage of a suspected white supremacist driving a car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing one.
Goodwin, who was convicted Wednesday, came to the rally looking for a fight, prosecutors testified.
“He was outfitted for battle,” assistant commonwealth’s attorney Nina-Alice Antony told jurors. “He’s got large goggles, boots. He’s got a full body shield.”Goodwin also reportedly wore pins identifying himself as a neo-Nazi. One pin contained the number “88,” a white supremacist code for “heil Hitler.” He also reportedly wore a pin with the logo for the Traditionalist Worker Party, a now-defunct neo-Nazi group whose members brawled with counter-protesters at the rally.
Ramos, who was convicted Thursday, has claimed that he can’t be racist because he is Puerto Rican. But pictures of Ramos at other demonstrations suggested otherwise; the profile picture on his now-deleted Facebook showed him standing next to a Confederate flag, and internet sleuths found pictures appearing to show him participating in a fringe militia’s armed “Islamophobic March Against Sharia” two months before Unite the Right.
As white supremacists faced off against counter-protesters, Harris and his friends reportedly argued with a group of men including Goodwin and Ramos. Harris’s friend Vonzz Long told CNN that the white supremacists shouted racial slurs and threw objects at them, and that Harris became separated from the group in the confusion. The men surrounded Harris in a parking garage and viciously beat him, leaving him with a broken forearm, a spinal injury, a concussion, and a large cut to the head, among other wounds.
Goodwin and Ramos were eventually identified in video footage of the attack, along with Unite the Right participants Daniel Borden and Tyler Davis. Borden and Davis are awaiting trial for the attack. The remaining two attackers have remained unidentified.
But before his attackers could go trial, Harris had fight a court battle of his own. Unite the Right participants accused Harris of assaulting the leader of a neo-Confederate group at the rally, and in October, Harris was arrested on malicious wounding charges, which were later downgraded to misdemeanor.
Harris’s accusers claimed he had attacked the white supremacist leader with a flashlight while trying to rip a Confederate flag from the white supremacist’s hands. Harris testified that he had only used the flashlight to knock away the flagpole after the white supremacist attempted to drive it like a spear into a counter-protester’s torso. (A lawsuit against a number of Unite the Right participants accuses white supremacists of using flags as makeshift spears.) A jury found Harris not guilty of assault.
Despite Harris’s not-guilty verdict, Goodwin still tried to use the incident to convince a jury that he had acted in self-defense when he beat Harris.
“To be honest, I was terrified,” Goodwin said of the man whose face and arm he helped break. “I’d probably perish or be sent to the hospital and be terribly hurt.”