Black Counter-Protester Who Wielded Flamethrower At Charlottesville Arrested

A counter demonstrator uses a lighted spray can against a white nationalist demonstrator at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.   Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/AP

A young black man photographed wielding an improvised flamethrower in front of a group of white nationalists at an August rally in Charlottesville, Virginia was arrested Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Virginia resident Corey Long, 23, was charged with disorderly conduct for his use of the makeshift flamethrower and with assault and battery for a separate skirmish that occurred during the tumultuous event, Charlottesville police spokesman Lt. Stephen Upman told the newspaper.

An Associated Press photo of a shirtless Long aiming a lighted spray can at a crowd of Confederate-flag wielding white nationalists went viral in the days after the rally, inspiring think pieces and circulating widely on social media.

Long, who the Times reported was released on bond after appearing before a magistrate, is the second black counter-protester to be charged last week in connection with the rally. A neo-Confederate group leader apparently made use of a Virginia statute to pursue a felony “unlawful wounding” charge for DeAndre Harris, a 20-year-old black man who was viciously beaten by a group of white nationalists in a parking garage.

Long is being represented by Malik Zulu Shabazz, former chairman of the New Black Panther Party, according to the Times.

Shortly after the rally, Long told the Root that he acted in self-defense in firing off the flamethrower, doing so after a white man shot at the ground in his direction.
“At first it was peaceful protest,” Long told the publication. “Until someone pointed a gun at my head. Then the same person pointed it at my foot and shot the ground.”

That person appears to be Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard and Baltimore resident Richard Wilson Preston. Preston is seen in a video taken by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Virginia chapter shouting “Hey, nigger!” just before drawing a pistol and firing into the crowd in Long’s direction. He was arrested in August for discharging a firearm within 1,000 yards of a school—a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.