A Klansman caught on video firing a gun in the middle of the 2017 white nationalist “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville has been sentenced to four years in prison by a judge in Virginia.
Richard Preston was handed an eight-year sentence Tuesday, with four years suspended. He also will serve three years of supervised probation.
Preston has said he was a the white nationalist rally as a member of a militia – but he is also Imperial Wizard of a Ku Klux Klan chapter in Maryland. He is shown on the video yelling the n-word and firing a gun in the direction of a black protester who is seen wielding a blowtorch.
Preston was charged with shooting a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school. He pleaded no contest to the charges.
Before his sentencing the case took an interesting turn. A black R & B musician named Daryl Davis stood up for him in court, paid his bail, and made an offer to the judge: he wanted to take Preston to the National African American History Museum in an effort to reeducate him.
The judge agreed and the two men visited the museum together. Davis has a long history of befriending members of the KKK who, as a result of their contact, go on to leave the organization.
Daryl Davis testified about what happened between the two men in the museum and afterward to the judge before Preston’s sentencing.
“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,” Davis told CNN.
“But what we did ended up mitigating Richard’s sentence.”
Preston maintained that he only the shot the gun because he was trying to protect people coming down some stairs where the protestor was wielding a blowtorch.
In the end the Judge Richard Moore said Preston acted out of anger not fear when he fired the gun. Preston was taken into custody immediately after the sentencing.
Corey Long, the protester who brandished the blowtorch, was convicted in June of disorderly conduct. He is appealing that conviction.