Attorney David BetrasDuring my 30-plus year career as a criminal defense and personal injury attorney I have viewed many disturbing images: autopsy photos, disfiguring injuries resulting from dog bites, surveillance cam footage of a murder, third degree burns suffered in an industrial accident. You name it, I have seen it.

But few of those images have been as alarming as the video of Andrew Walls yelling “What’s up? N-word b****, shut your mouth,” at 23-year-old Cameron Morgan before punching her in the mouth and then dragging her by the hair into the street. The attack took place on Saturday, February 26 in Akron. Ms. Morgan suffered a split lip and a concussion. Walls has been charged with two counts of assault and one count of possessing a firearm while intoxicated. The Akron police have also asked the FBI to determine if Walls’ actions constitute a federal hate crime.

Anyone who watches the video—and I hope all my readers do even though it is alarming—will conclude that the answer is undoubtedly “yes.”  Walls’ hate for Ms. Morgan, whom he had never met, is visceral and palpable. The look on his face is frightening.

And here is something equally frightening: it is a look we have seen far too often in the United States in recent years. It was evident during the “Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, VA,  the January 6 insurrection and attack on the Capitol and could be seen on the faces of the three men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged down a street in Brunswick, GA.

Hate and those who spread it, are tearing our nation apart.

I have had enough and, thanks to Cameron Morgan and her father David who have asked me to represent them, I have an opportunity to take a stand. I will soon be filing a civil suit against Walls for his unprovoked and brutal attack on Cameron. In addition, we will press law enforcement officials to charge him under Ohio and U.S. hate crime statutes that will significantly increase his sentence if he is convicted. The power of those laws was on display just last week when Arbery’s killers were convicted of federal hate crimes and now face sentences that will keep them in prison for the remainder of their natural lives.

Our crusade to end racially-motivated violence will not end there. If, as reported, Walls is a member of the Proud Boys we will pursue legal action against the white supremacist organization. Classified as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and branded as terrorists by the Canadian government, the Proud Boys played a prominent role in the Unite the Right Rally, the Capitol insurrection, and other violent uprisings. They must be held accountable for the violence they are spreading in our backyard and across the country. My goal is to sue them into oblivion.

Some people have warned me not to “mess with” the Proud Boys. But they and Walls have messed up the life of a young woman who will deal with the consequences of this savage attack for years to come, perhaps forever. We will not back up or back down. The cycle of violence precipitated by Walls and his ilk will not be broken until good people stand up and join us in saying “enough is enough and supporting us as use the law to punish the lawless.