An Imperial Wizard of a Maryland Ku Klux Klan chapter was sentenced to four years in prison by a Virginia judge on Tuesday for firing a gun in a school zone during the 2017 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, CNN reports. If not for the outreach effort of a black activist, the Klansman would have likely done harder time.
Richard Preston was given an eight year sentence with four years suspended and three years of supervised probation.
According to his testimony, Preston attended the white nationalist rally as a member of the “Real Three Percent Rising” militia; he was shown on video shouting the n-word and firing in the direction of a black counter-protester wielding a blowtorch.
Preston claims he only shot the gun because he was trying to protect people from the blowtorch, but the judge believes Preston did not act out of fear, but anger.
Preston was charged with shooting a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school and pleaded no contest.
Daryl Davis, a black R&B musician (pictured above), reportedly paid part of Preston’s bail, stood up for him in court, and offered to help educate Preston by taking him to the National Museum of African American History And Culture. The judge agreed to the proposal. Davis later testified about the trip to the museum.
“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.”
Davis also reportedly walked Preston’s bride down the aisle at their wedding.
CNN noted in its report earlier this month that on his trip with Preston to the museum Davis has spent decades befriending KKK members. He says that 200 Klansmen that he befriended have left the group; 40 have given him their robes as a symbolic gesture upon leaving.
“It’s going to plant a seed,” said Davis. “The seed may not blossom today, tomorrow, the next day, but eventually it will come out because the truth never can, never can never be squashed.”