'I was losing so much blood': Counter-protester beaten with poles, signs in Charlottesville
Posted August 13
Charlottesville, Va. — Flowers and candles on Sunday marked the spot where a woman was killed after a car plowed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville, Va., injuring 19 people.
One day after violence in Charlottesville, both sides wanted their voices to be heard, but one side was louder than the other.
Jason Kessler, who organized the Saturday rally that turned violent, attempted to share his side of the story Sunday afternoon. His story was never heard by the crowd because his comments were drowned out by chants from the opposition.
“I would like to condemn any of the violence that happened yesterday. I disavow anything that led to folks getting hurt,” Kessler said.
Kessler’s speech was cut short when he was swarmed by protesters in a scene that stood in stark contrast to a morning service at the First Baptist Church, where a uniting message from Gov. Terry McAuliffe brought the crowd to their feet.
McAuliffe paused to recognize Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people who were protesting the white nationalists, as well as two state troopers who were killed in a helicopter crash on the way to the scene.
One of those troopers was McAuliffe’s personal pilot for more than three years.
“We are stronger than these people. You have made us stronger. You think you hurt us? You made us stronger,” he said.
Police said a total of 35 people were injured Saturday, including Deandre Harris.
"I got hit in the head and I had to get eight staples in my head to seal it back up. I broke my wrist right here. I busted my lip. I chipped my tooth," Harris said. "I'm on my knees just getting beat with poles and signs and being kicked and hit. It's crazy."
Harris said he's alive thanks to a stranger he only knows as Karen.
"She talked to me and kept me calm and really kept me awake. I was fading and she woke me up. I was losing so much blood, the people at the hospital told me I was lucky," Harris said.
Harris said he was at Saturday's rally to simply use words, not weapons.
"I was here as a counter-protester, but just to voice my opinion about the KKK and white supremacy and things like that," he said. "I wasn't out here being violent. I wasn't out here to be violent."
McAuliffe said that no property was damaged as a result of the protests and no shots were fired even though many in attendance were carrying weapons. In the future though, he said city officials will likely reconsider where similar protests are allowed to occur.
“Law enforcement did a great job. I can’t second guess. We just need to be careful about where we’re allowing these instance to occur, I’ll be very frank on that,” he said. “Move it to a place where you’re not in the middle of downtown. I think we’ve got to look at that.”