An image of a young man who was badly injured during the deadly Charlottesville riots on Saturday has gone viral after photographer Ian Frank snapped the photo of the victim while a white nationalist is said to have yelled, “Die ni**er!”
20-year-old Dre Harris was left with eight staples in his head, a broken wrist, and a concussion after he was beaten with sticks and wood planks by an angry group of Nazis and KKK members during the violent “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA.
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The victim spoke exclusively with Hollywood Unlocked about his life-threatening and eye opening experience at the White Nationalist rally that turned deadly.
The young man moved to the area just two years ago to take a position at a nearby high school as an Instructional Assistant and Special Education Teacher. He had never attended a protest before and wanted to get involved after learning of the white nationalist rallies that had been taking place in the area.
“It was the first protest I have ever attended. And I was really facing death today. I was losing so much blood.”
Harris detailed how many of the counter protestors were scared to rally out of fear of the white nationalists.
“People were scared to protest because the KKK outnumbered the counter protesters. I watched them get attacked [by the white nationalists] with tear gas… There was a KKK rally before that didn’t get violent but this one had KKK and Nazis and it got crazy.”
Harris says he and a small group of friends were just walking within the crowd when a parade of KKK and Nazi members rushed through and began beating them with sticks and pieces of wood.
“They rushed us. It was me and 5 of my friends and someone came and hit me in my head. I lost consciousness while they were beating me. When I opened my eyes, my friends were taking me to an area to get help. I guess it was at that moment that the photo was taken.”
Photographer Ian Frank works with Together We Stand, an organization that is dedicated to dismantling racism and police brutality. TWS sent Ian to Charlottesville to cover the white nationalist rally that ended up leaving 5 people dead.
However, it was Ian’s photo of Harris that helped capture one of the moments from the riots that went viral. After the photo began to surface, many on social media began sharing the image, while calling for justice against the white terrorism it represented.
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Harris says his mother was upset at him for attending the protest, but is happy that he is still alive to tell the tale.
“My mom didn’t let me go to the last protest. This time I didn’t tell her I was going. I went to stand up for what I believe in.”
Harris says he will have to miss work on Monday to allow himself to heal from his injuries. But he still expresses a positive outlook on his experience at the violent protest.
“It was a good experience to go out there and see the real hatred and racism that exist out here. People say they know racism, but you don’t know racism until you look a KKK member’s hatred in the eye.”
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When asked if he will continue to be active in other protests in the future, Harris stated:
“I’m now an active member of the Black Lives Matter movement. If they [white nationalists] come back I will be there. The police and KKK are together. The police weren’t doing nothing out there today.”
This is where I call home. And seeing what I saw today, is not somewhere I want to call home.”
Take a look at some of the violence that ensued during the Charlottesville riots.