Almost two months after getting violently beaten by a group of white supremacists at a “Unite the Right” rally back in August of 2017, DeAndre Harris faced malicious wounding charges.

Nazi sympathizers, white nationalists, and right-wing activists gathered in Charlottesville, VA to protest the removal of Confederate monuments and promote white supremacy. According to PBS, Harris was among the counter-protesters at the rally that drew national attention after James Alex Fields Jr. rammed his car into a crowd, killing one and injuring nineteen others.

What prompted the assault?

Videos recorded by witnesses show Harris on the ground in a parking deck, surrounded by a group of men who were striking him with various weapons.

The beating began after Harris threw a flashlight at a white supremacist holding a flagpole—trying to disarm the man and protect his friend who was at the other end of the pole. Harris didn’t bring the flashlight to use as a weapon but allegedly received it from another protestor to use for protection. He was able to run away from the incident but suffered from many wounds including a head laceration requiring stitches and a spinal injury.

The incident was widely publicized, sparking a search among social media to find the perpetrators of his assault.

Four men were arrested in connection with the crime on Malicious Wounding charges. Harris didn’t expect to be among those arrested, indicted for the same crime as his assailants. Accused of hitting a man identified as Harold Crews on the forehead with a flashlight, he faced a felony charge that carried up to five years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.

The court date

On Friday, March 16, Harris appeared in court and was acquitted of the charge—which had been downgraded from felony to a misdemeanor. Judge Robert Downer Jr. concluded that he “could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that [Harris] intended to hit Mr. Crews with [the ­flashlight].”

A large group supporting Harris awaited the verdict at the courthouse.

While most believed he should never have been charged in the first place—they were overjoyed when the not guilty verdict was read. Activist Grace Aheron felt the charges were shameful, “To say that DeAndre was in any way a threat to public safety was a slap in the face to everyone in our community who endured the trauma of August 12."

WTVR Richmond reports that the trials of the men accused of assaulting him are set for later this year. For now, DeAndre Harris just wants peace in his community.