BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A self-described white nationalist is accused of using racist language in an altercation with a Black man and charged with a hate crime.
Max Misch, of Bennington, pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge on Monday, the Bennington Banner reported.
Misch was charged with disorderly conduct as a hate crime after the encounter on September 14 between himself and a biracial couple on a Bennington street. Misch told police he was walking his dog when the couple stopped their car alongside him and Dejiourn Harden goaded him into a fight, saying Misch had a problem with Black people. Harden, 23, and his girlfriend Erin Amidon told investigators Misch started the altercation by using a racial slur when they drove past him.
Harden allegedly punched Misch after Misch made a racist remark about violent crimes committed by Black people, the newspaper reported. The statement was recorded on Misch’s cellphone video, police said.
Police said Tuesday that Harden has been cited to appear in court on a charge of simple assault and Amidon on a charge of disorderly conduct. It was not immediately known if they are being represented by attorneys.
Misch also pleaded not guilty Monday to a separate disorderly conduct charge accusing him of walking through the painting of a Black Lives Matter mural in Bennington on August 30, smearing the artwork, court documents say. Misch told police that he accidentally stepped on the paint. It was not immediately known if Misch is being represented by an attorney. There was no phone listing in his name.
Misch was previously accused of harassing Vermont’s only black female legislator. Two years ago, state Rep. Kia Morris resigned after receiving what she said were online and other racial threats. Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said an investigation found that she was the victim of racial harassment but no charges would be filed because of free speech protections and insufficient evidence.