Bethel protester files charges from Sunday incident as protest’s third day proves civil
CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A man who was struck in the head during a protest in Bethel has decided to pursue charges against the man who hit him.
Police Chief Steve Teague announced Wednesday that an arrest warrant for assault has been filed against the suspect, 64-year-old Johnnie Devault, but his whereabouts are unknown.
The chief says they asked Devault to turn himself in, but he has not.
Bethel police say the officer pictured in the video was looking away when the incident happened.
“Once the victim made the officer aware of the assault, he was removed from the area and taken behind the Grant Memorial area for an interview and chose not to press charges,” Teague explained. “That has since been changed. He came into our office on Monday morning and decided to press charges, so we have been actively working to get charges filed.”
Video of the incident has been shared hundreds of times, including by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who tweeted about the incident Tuesday night.
Protesters and counter-protesters clashed Sunday and Monday in front of the Grant Memorial Building on Plane Street in Bethel, Ohio.
Two days later, the interactions appeared more productive and the arguments seemed to be made in good faith.
A Black Lives Matter protester walked down Plane Street on Tuesday with a megaphone. Moments later, several counter-protesters gathered around him and a conversation ensued.
“We’ve got to come together, and we’ve got to stand up for the ones that are trying to start stuff, because what people are trying to do is divide us,” BLM protester Denorver Garnett said.
Later, one counter-protester said to Garnett, “Assuming anything about you is completely unfair, other than that you’re a black man who’s a Christian and they were doing the same thing to our people out here, assuming that because where we live in this town this town’s being racist... This town isn’t racist. I’ve lived here my whole life.”
Moments after those words were spoken, someone driving by the conversation yelled out of their window, “Get 'em boys, get 'em."
While Garnett laughed off the comment, a counter-protester talking to him said, “He’s clueless,” in regard to the shouted comment.
By the end of the conversation, the two sides came to an agreement to come together.
“We’ve got to take this rift away from us and come together, and we’ll all go up to Columbus and fight this fight together. I’ll stand right beside you as long as I believe your cause is just," said one counter-protester.
The two men shook hands and Garnett replied, “I’m getting chills. Look. I got you man. I’m getting chills. I’ve got family too. I didn’t come out here to be violent man."
The men in the group said the conversation was just the starting point for them to find common ground to bring forth positive change for everyone.
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