Corey A. Long, a counter-protester who is said to have wielded an improvised flamethrower against white nationalists in a Charlottesville rally has finally been charged. He was charged with assault, battery and disorderly conduct. The 23-year old man from Culpeper, VA, was arrested on August 12 after committing these offenses in Unite the Right rally that turned out to be dramatic. However, according to Charlottesville Police Department, Mr. Long was released on an unsecured bond that day.
The incident drew widespread attention after someone took the photo of Mr. Long aiming a lighted spray at a rather charged nationalists group of protestors. According to Long, he used a lighter to ignite a spray can thrown at him by one of the protesters, immediately converting it into a homemade flamethrower.
Mr. Long was caught on video, in yet another episode, wielding the flaming spray can, and someone who’s said to be Richard W. Preston, a Ku Klux Klan leader-firing a gun right near his feet. Preston has since been jailed without bail and is set to attend his preliminary hearing in December.
In an interview with the press right after his release, the rather unfazed Long told the media he was arrested on some straight bullshit. His criminal defense lawyers declined to comment on anything though. At a press conference on 28 September, Long defended his position saying he lit the spray can to protect an older white man behind him.
The white nationalist rally in Charlottesville attracted hundreds of protesters who were against the city’s plan to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The weekend-long protests and scuffles heightened when Heather D. Heyer, a 32-year old woman died after a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters. The driver, who was identified as James Alex Fields Jr., was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Jason Kessler, the Unite the Right rally organizer, took to his twitter handle to complain about Long’s charges citing them as inadequate. He suggested that no mask law, burning an object with intent to intimidate and brandishing a firearm to be appropriate charges. Though Kessler thinks the charges are inadequate, they still fall under Class 1 misdemeanors of the Virginia Code. Such offenses can attract up to one year in jail.
The assault charges against Mr. Long were based on allegation brought forth by Harold Crews. Apart from being a Southern nationalist, Mr. Crews is believed to be the Chairman of the North Carolina League of the South.
According to LLyod Snook III, the criminal defense lawyer, Kessler’s assessment of burning-object and mask charges is misguided. He refers to this two as felonies-where people are hurt-which was not the case when Long fired off the spray can.A couple of people were in support of the release of Mr. Long. One of the prominent persons to speak on the matter was Mimi Arbeit, a key organizer with Indivisible Charlottesville. He described Long as one of the dedicated community members who were ready to stand up against the white supremacist fascism. Mr. Long is said to have returned to the demonstrations shortly after his release.
Three Unite the Right activists JonPaul Struys, Nathan Damigo and Evan McLaren were arrested amidst the protests and arraigned before the General District Court of Charlottesville. They were charged with a misdemeanor of failure to disperse. Immediately after their conviction, Mr. Long welcomed the decision with a fist pump, and shouts of black power. He is said to have further joined four other men who followed the three convicted men right through the parking garage while denouncing white supremacy.