The head of the Maryland Ku Klux Klan was recently charged with time behind bars after he fired a gunshot at a Black counter-protester’s feet.
Richard W. Preston was sentenced to serve four years at a federal prison on Tuesday. He was charged with firing a firearm withing 1000 feet of a school. He was originally given an eight year prison sentence, but four of those years were debarred according to the SPL Center.
On August 12, 2017, the “Unite The Right” rally was held in Charlottesville, NC and organized with the help of neo-Nazi Jason Kessler. Several white supremacists including Preston, marched the streets yelling “blood, soil” and encountered anti-racist protesters.
Black counter protester Corey Long was waving around an aerosol can and blow torch. The “Imperial Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan Maryland chapter shot at Long called and shouted, “Hey, nigger.”
The prosecution tried to argue “self defense” for Preston and said he was only trying to protect the people at the rally. The felon’s attorney, Elmor Woodward added, “Somebody had to put a stop to that flamethrower… The rules go out the window when flamethrowers are involved.”
Woodward also called in Daryl Davis, a Black musician to testify on Preston’s half. Davis is known for helping Klansman suspend their contract with the KKK and befriending them. Preston and the musician attended the “National African American History Museum” together and said it helped reduce the shooter’s sentence.
Davis told CNN, “The judge took everything into account. He commended me for my work and Richard for going to the museum but said Richard broke the law and had to be punished.”
Preston plead guilty to shooting the firearm and will serve three years of supervised probation.
Several people were affected by the events of the Charlottesville rally including Heather Heyer who was hit by a car driven by a white supremacist and killed. DeAndre Harris, 20, was brutally beaten by one of the white protesters in the parking garage.