Rosedale KKK Leader Who Fired Pistol at Va. Hate Rally Denied Bail

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Richard Preston in 2013. Still via YouTube/USA Today.

Richard Preston, the imperial wizard of Rosedale’s chapter of the Ku Klu Klan, will remain jailed without bond in Albemarle County, Va.

Preston was the man seen on video in late August drawing his pistol and shooting in the direction of a black counter-protester during the “Unite the Right” hate rally in Charlottesville. He was among hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis who convened there near the site of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee that has been proposed for removal.

By the end of the day, one woman was killed and 19 people injured in violence that erupted between white supremacists and counter-protesters.

In the video, the black counter-protester ignites a homemade flamethrower made from a can of aerosol spray. Preston then draws his weapon and approaches– someone shouts the n-word, too, though it’s unclear if it was Preston – before firing a single shot and scurrying away.

Preston faces a charge of firing a gun within 1,000 feet of a school and has been detained in Virginia since late August. According to The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Preston’s attorney argued at his bail hearing yesterday that he shot his gun in self-defense and that he’s not a flight risk. Preston also reportedly said he was defending a fellow hate protester who was standing near the flamethrower.

The judge didn’t buy it.

“I think firing a firearm under those circumstances is not justified,” Charlottesville General District Court Judge Robert Downer said. “It may justify pulling a pistol out — and maybe when I see the video I may change my mind — but a bullet goes somewhere, and this was in a park were there were lots of people.”

Preston, 52, is in charge of the Baltimore area’s very own KKK chapter. Several years ago, he tried to somehow rebrand the group’s image. According to The News-Journal of Wilmington, Del., in 2013 he told a crowd that included black attendees, “We can only ask you to trust us.”

He’s also got a hell of a record, with charges including forcible first-degree rape in 1991, second-degree assault in 2002, assault and use of a deadly weapon with intent to injure in 2003 and acting as an unlicensed contractor and failing to perform assigned work in 2005, court records show. He’s pleaded out or been found not guilty in every case.

Preston’s next hearing is set for Dec. 14, which means he’ll be in prison for at least the next two months.

Ethan McLeod
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