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Va. man guilty of brandishing hatchet, driving truck toward Black Lives Matter protesters in Virginia Beach

Va. man guilty of brandishing hatchet, driving truck toward Black Lives Matter protesters in Virginia Beach

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VIRGINIA BEACH — A Virginia man has been sentenced to three years in jail for brandishing a hatchet and driving his truck toward a group of Black Lives Matter protesters last year.

Emanuel “Manny” Wilder, 20, was sentenced Thursday and also was ordered to pay $1,856, the cost of his extradition from Florida, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Wilder was arrested in Lake City, Fla., after he failed to appear for trial in Virginia Beach.

The incident happened on May 31 near the Oceanfront boardwalk area in Virginia Beach, where Black Lives Matter protesters gathered to march against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In video footage shown in court, Wilder was seen shirtless, wielding a hatchet and yelling racial obscenities at the protesters. In another video, he was seen driving his red pickup truck toward the group.

Virginia Beach District Judge Jon Babineau said Wilder “was acting in a totally irrational manner, full of hatred.”

Wilder pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, including reckless driving, using abusive language and two counts of failing to appear in court.

Defense attorney Otis Forbes said Wilder suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a childhood issue but wasn’t taking any medication at the time. Forbes also said Wilder went to Florida because he was homeless and had nowhere else to go.

Wilder apologized for his actions in court and told the judge that he was being medicated and had signed up for therapy.

Forbes asked that Wilder be sentenced to time served. But the judge disagreed, saying the defendant was out in public yelling racial obscenities while wielding a hatchet.

“We cannot tolerate hatred in the community,” Babineau said.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Frank Green has covered the death penalty for the newspaper for more than 30 years — from the basement of the former Virginia State Penitentiary, to the Supreme Court of the United States — and has had a part in writing about all but a handful of the 113 executions in Virginia since 1982. Virginia will become the 23nd state to abolish the death penalty after Gov. Ralph Northam signs the bill into law this year.

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