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Federal judge denies Patriot Front members' motion in Arthur Ashe mural defacement civil rights suit

A screen grab from the Patriot Front video of members defacing a mural of Arthur Ashe in Richmond.
Unnamed plaintiff's lawsuit
A screen grab from the Patriot Front video of members defacing a mural of Arthur Ashe in Richmond.

An attorney for a group of Richmond residents praised a federal judge for siding with his clients in civil claims against the white nationalist group Patriot Front Monday.

Back in 2021, members of the group Patriot Front spray painted over a mural of civil rights legend and Richmond native Arthur Ashe located in a mostly Black neighborhood. The group videotaped themselves during the acts and tagged Ashe’s face with Patriot Front logos.

Local unnamed plaintiffs filed civil rights charges, claiming the defacement was an effort to intimidate them from accessing the public park. They’re asking a judge to stop the group from continuing to threaten their community.

And while Richmond District Federal Judge Hannah Lauck found First Amendment protections may apply to the acts, the group’s self-described pursuit of a “white ethnostate” could open the door to racial intimidation claims under state law.

"Viewed favorably, the amended complaint alleges numerous well-pled and plausible facts that support a reasonable inference that racial animus against Black individuals and their supporters animated Defendants’ conduct," Lauck wrote in the 71-page opinion released Monday.

Arthur Ago, director of the Criminal Justice Project at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, who argued on behalf of the locals last week welcomed Lauck's ruling.

“We look forward to the next stage of the case, and to ultimately holding the Patriot Front and the individual defendants accountable for the racially motivated harm that they caused our clients,” Ago told Radio IQ.

Attempts to reach Attorney Glen K. Allen, who represented named defendants in the suit, were not returned by press time.

Judge Lauck ordered each of the defendants to reply to the lawsuit. No future hearing date has been assigned.

Brad Kutner is Radio IQ's reporter in Richmond.
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