Michael Ramos, the man who turned himself in after beating a counter protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, appeared in court on Tuesday for the first time since his arrest for an extradition hearing.
Ramos has been charged with beating Deandre Harris during the protests that sparked violence in Charlottesville. However, he insisted that he was “absolutely not” a white supremacist or neo-Nazi.
Asked why he attended the rally in Charlottesville, Ramos explained, “I was there because, pretty much, I’m a conservative…there were some non-racist members who were going to a free speech rally.”
He also claimed that he was defending himself when he attacked Harris, saying, “These men attacked us…I thought I was going there in a defensive mode, defending people from being attacked.”
“I hit the man one time,” he added. “Before I got there, men beat him with sticks and shields. I had nothing to do with that.”
He also pointed out that he could be heard on the tape trying to stop the assault from going too far.
“You can hear me say, ‘Let him go, let him go,’ because they were going at him one more time and it’s obviously not fair,” he said.
Ramos is facing a charge of malicious wounding, which could land him in jail for one to five years.