New video has surfaced that shows a man drawing a gun and opening fire at counter protesters during the neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville on August 12th. The man was reportedly taken into custody this morning, but many are asking why police didn’t do anything at the time.
Just eight people were arrested at the notorious rally in Charlottesville, where one woman was killed and dozens more were injured after a neo-Nazi terrorist drove his car into a group of counter-protesters. Both the neo-Nazis and counter-protesters believe that police intentionally stood down.
The man in the video is wearing a bullet-proof vest and an American flag bandana. He appears to shout “hey, nigger” as well as something else that was inaudible before shooting his weapon. It’s unclear if the man shot near the crowd as a way to terrorize people or if he was, in fact, aiming at someone and simply missed.
The video appears to take place right around the moment that this famous photo was taken, showing 23-year-old elder care worker Corey Long using a homemade flamethrower to defend against neo-Nazis.
“The cops were protecting the Nazis, instead of the people who live in the city,” Long told The Root in an interview from August 14th. “The cops basically just stood in their line and looked at the chaos. The cops were not protecting the people of Charlottesville. They were protecting the outsiders.”
You can see the fire and the flag attack in the new video on the right side of the screen. The New York Times doesn’t mention the connection between the two incidents, but the image is unmistakable.
Those in the crowd at the time insist that police knew a man had fired a gun but did absolutely nothing to try and apprehend him. It’s clear from the video that a gunshot can be heard from some distance, and Corey Long mentions the incident in his interview with The Root.
“At first it was peaceful protest,” Long told The Root. “Until someone pointed a gun at my head. Then the same person pointed it at my foot and shot the ground.”
“We all heard it and ran—I know damn well they heard it,” a community activist in Virginia told the New York Times about the police officers’ reaction to the shot. “They never moved.”
But the new video, released by the Virginia chapter of the ACLU and obtained by the New York Times, is even more shocking than the video above because the unnamed man actually discharges his weapon.
Video and photos surfaced on social media in the immediate aftermath of violence in Charlottesville showing neo-Nazi groups pushing up against a line of police officers with only minimal resistance from the cops. It was a stark contrast to the way that American police typically respond to any sort of resistance at public demonstrations.
The rally, officially known as Unite the Right, was a major turning point in America’s understanding of hate groups in the US. Organized by Jason Kessler, a white supremacist and former contributor to The Daily Caller, the rally showed that racists who may previously have been scared to be so public in their hate are no longer worried about organizing.
Kessler referred to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer at the rally as “payback time” on Twitter and called her a “fat disgusting Communist.” He soon deleted the tweet, blaming it on drugs and alcohol from the previous night. But Kessler reiterated the same sentiment just a few days later on the same day that President Trump held a rally in Phoenix, Arizona.
President Donald Trump received criticism in the wake of the neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville for not denouncing the hate groups forcefully enough. Trump’s now infamous take on the rally was that there was violence committed “on both sides,” a battle cry that has no become common on White Nationalist Twitter.
President Trump energized neo-Nazis when he referred to Antifa at his recent rally in Phoenix on August 24th. And fascist-linked groups online are even more emboldened after his pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio was announced on Twitter last night.
Arpaio was convicted of ignoring a court order to stop illegally targeting members of the Latino community. He spent 18 months ignoring that order, and was never even charged for some of his most heinous crimes.
Arpaio forced women to give birth in shackles, he failed to investigate hundreds of sexual abuse cases, he ran what he called a “concentration camp,” and he arrested reporters who covered him. Arpaio even staged a fake assassination attempt in 1999 as a bid for publicity. Needless to say, Arpaio is a very bad guy.
With President Trump in the White House it’s clear that neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and just all around shitty people now feel like they can walk around in public shooting guns near crowds with impunity. Hopefully the arrest of this unnamed man changes that ever so slightly. But with pardons now on the table, who knows what’s going through the minds of the fascists organizing the next Charlottesville and the one after that? Nothing good, to be sure.
Update, August 30th, 2:23am: The man arrested for firing his gun has been identified as 52-year-old Richard W. Preston, a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He has reportedly been charged with assault on three separate occasions and rape on another occasion, though he wasn’t convicted.
From the Baltimore City Paper:
Richard W. Preston, 52 years old, of the 5800 block of Cedonia Avenue, was picked up on a warrant by federal law enforcement on Saturday and deposited in the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson. He is charged with firing a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. He was jailed in Towson, and not Baltimore City, because the FBI collared him in the county and not the city, according to Corporal George Erhardt, a spokesman for Baltimore County Police.
As President Trump said, “very fine people” indeed.