Social media leads from Charlottesville attack to Ohio

A police lieutenant in Mason spent Monday morning talking to TMZ. Local parents and kids scrolled through Facebook and Twitter in outrage, asking the same question: Do you recognize that guy?

Because of a photo.

The photo, taken in a parking garage during protests over the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, shows three white men beating a black man. One is wearing a helmet, and they are all holding poles or sticks.

The African-American is on his hands and knees.

The photo, taken by New York-based photographer Zach D. Roberts, has been widely shared across social media – more than 20,000 times on Roberts' Twitter account alone. 

It blew up in Greater Cincinnati on Sunday evening when activists and internet sleuths, based on Roberts' photo and others, identified the man with the helmet  as a Mason High School student.

The man named by activists in media reports attended Mason High School, according to a school spokeswoman, but did not graduate from there.

"It is hard to reconcile that several Ohioans appear to have been part of the horrific violence that occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend. Our students and their families deserve to know that we are allies in the fight against bigotry," said Tracey Carson, the school district's public information officer, in a prepared statement.

"As we begin a new school year tomorrow, it is a good time to recommit ourselves to spreading kindness, and to being a light in the world."

The man was outed as part of a nationwide attempt to identify participants in the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville. The crowdsourcing effort also ensnared two Centerville men.

The man who was attacked, Deandre Harris, 22, says on a GoFundMe page for medical expenses that three men knocked him unconscious and he suffered a concussion.

Harris also said he chipped a tooth and doctors put eight staples in his head. The Charlottesville resident went to Emancipation Park to voice his opposition to protests about the removal of local Confederate monuments.

"I'm so blessed to be alive to tell my story and to show the world that racism is very much still alive," he wrote on his GoFundMe page.

The campaign raised more than $106,000 in one day and is no longer accepting donations.

Overnight, the police department was flooded with calls as former classmates of the man reacted online with the word "insane" and crying emojis.

"We are getting destroyed on the phone," Lt. Scott Doughman told The Enquirer.

But Doughman said the man doesn't live in Mason and "hasn't for a while." The lieutenant did not know specifically when he moved away from Mason.

The Enquirer is not naming the man because his identity has not been confirmed by officials. Calls and messages to the Virginia State Police and the Charlottesville Police Department were not immediately returned Monday. The FBI said it was not involved, referring questions to the state police.

 

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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