A former member of a white nationalist group was found guilty on Friday of assaulting a young black man during the violent Unite the Right rally of August 2017, which resulted in the death of one counter-protester and served as a wake-up call for the dangers of a resurgent far-right.
Tyler Watkins Davis, 50, from Florida, entered and Alford plea on Friday in relation to the malicious wounding of DeAndre Harris, who was 20 at the time of the assault.
An Alford plea is an acknowledgement by defense lawyers that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict, despite the defendant continuing to profess innocence.
The evidence in question is a video which shows Harris and three other assailants beating Harris with sticks as he scrambles on the floor of the parking lot.
Davis, who according to the Washington Post has now renounced white nationalism, was part of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group whose members frequently attend far-right rallies. According to NBC29, Davis has returned to Florida and will be sentenced in August, when he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Davis’ conviction is the fourth to be handed down in relation to the parking lot assault. In January Daniel Borden, from Ohio, also entered an Alford plea and was sentenced to twenty years, suspended for sixteen years and two months — in effect making him have to serve 46 months behind bars. Last August two other men who took part in the attack, Jacob Scott Goodwin and Alex Ramos, were sentenced to eight years and six years respectively for their role in the assault.
The vicious assault left Harris with a deep laceration on his head which required staples, as well as a spinal injury and a broken wrist. Prosecutors, however, chose to charge Harris with a misdemeanor assault for intervening, prior to the attack on him, in a scuffle between his friend and a far-right protester with a Confederate flag. He was found not guilty of the charges last March.
The parking garage assault was one of multiple violent incidents during the Unite the Right rally which eventually resulted in criminal convictions for the far-right. Easily the most infamous of these is the case of James Alex Fields, who was sentenced in December to life in prison for deliberately ramming his car into counter-protesters, killing one. He has also been indicted separately on federal hate crime charges.
Chris Cantwell, meanwhile, the “Crying Nazi” who became infamous after being the subject of a VICE documentary about Charlottesville, also pleaded guilty in July to assault and battery charges, and was banned from Virginia for five years.
The charges stemming from the violence in Charlottesville undoubtedly have helped to fracture the far-right, however individual “lone wolves” are still very prevalent.
According to the Anti-Defamation League’s 2018 annual report, all but one of the domestic extremist murders carried out in the United States last year were carried out by far-right extremists.