Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times
Corey Long, the black man who wielded an improvised flamethrower against white nationalists two months ago at a violent far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va.—an incident captured in a photo that went viral—has become the second black counterprotester in two days to be arrested in relation to the rally.
Charlottesville police investigators arrested Long, 23, of Culpeper, Va., Friday on charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct — a move that is likely to draw strong criticism from anti-racism advocates who have accused law enforcement of not acting swiftly enough to quell the violence that broke out during the August rally or to arrest a group of white men who were videotaped beating another black counterprotester, DeAndre Harris.
Lt. Stephen Upman, a Charlottesville police spokesman, said the disorderly conduct charge is related to the makeshift flamethrower and the assault and battery charge is related to a separate skirmish during the rally.
A series of confrontations took place in Charlottesville Aug. 12 when hundreds of white supremacists gathered for a Unite the Right rally to protest the city’s plan to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
After a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, died and 19 were injured after a car rammed into a crowd of counterdemonstrators, President Trump provoked outrage by blaming some of the violence on anti-racist protesters.
“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, as you say, the ‘alt-right?’” Trump said at a news conference at Trump Tower a few days after the incident. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? … “You had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.”
Long was widely celebrated by anti-racism advocates after a photographer for the Associated Press captured him wielding a makeshift flamethrower, fashioned, he told the Root, by holding a lighter to a can of spray paint a white nationalist had thrown at him earlier.
“This graceful man has appropriated not only the flames of white-supremacist bigotry but also the debauched, rhetorical fire of Trump, who gloated, earlier this week, that he would respond to a foreign threat with ‘fire and fury,’” Doreen St. Félix, a staff writer for the New Yorker, wrote. “The resistance has its fire, too.”