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|“||These vicious home invasions are a sign of the times. As demographics change, so do crime rates. Now, we may not be able to slow the browning of America, but we can sure as hell take our city back. And if you elect me, I'll lead that charge.||„|
|~ One of Preston's racist campaign speeches.|
Clark Preston is the secondary antagonist of the Criminal Minds episode "A Thin Line". He is a corrupt, racist businessman and politician who secretly orchestrates home invasions in order to blame them on minorities and stir up racist sentiment in hopes of being elected mayor of Los Angeles. To that end, he manipulates the episode's main antagonist, Trevor Mills, into committing the murders.
He was portrayed by Paul Johansson.
Preston is a real estate developer in the Inland Empire region of Los Angeles who is beginning a political career. A virulent racist, he attracts political support by playing on the fear of crime and blaming Black people and Hispanic immigrants for the rise of violence in the area, and bemoaning the "browning of America". Unbeknownst to his followers, however, Preston is causing the crime wave by manipulating his most avid supporters, Trevor Mills, into committing home invasions and murdering entire families, crimes that Preston then blames on minorities.
Preston financially supports Mills and his mother, Pamela, who is in a persistent vegetative state after being beaten and raped within an inch of her life by two burglars who broke into the Mills family home in 2002. The robbers, Ronnie Green and Carlos Jackson, had also murdered her husband and daughter, leaving Trevor alone. Preston pays all Pamela's medical bills, and manipulates Trevor into donating her monthly disability check to his campaign. Preston stokes Trevor's anger and resentment against Green and Jackson, who are Black and Hispanic, respectively, with his racist campaign speeches, and privately brainwashes him into believing that all nonwhites are like them.
"A Thin Line"
When the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) are called in to investigate Trevor's latest mass murder, agents Aaron Hotchner and Derek Morgan interview Preston regarding his racist campaign rhetoric, believing that it might be spurring on the killer. Preston disingenuously promises to tone it out down, while condescending to Morgan, who is Black, by saying he must have come up from a poor family in a bad neighborhood, and that he wished "they" were all like him.
After talking with Hotchner and Morgan, Preston visits Trevor and tells him not to commit any more home invasions for the time being. Mills is itching to kill more minorities, however, and commits another murderous home invasion the following night, this time leaving a witness. Panicked, he goes to Preston for help, but Preston tells him to stay away, and begins to wash his hands of his former protégé.
Meanwhile, BAU technical analyst Penelope Garcia researches Preston and Trevor's relationship, and finds out that Preston had bought the land encompassing Trevor's family home at a greatly reduced price shortly after his family was murdered. She also researches Preston's finances, and finds that he had written checks for two-hundred thousand dollars to Green and Jackson. With this information, the other BAU agents realize that Preston orchestrated the murder of the Mills family so could buy the land cheap, and is now using Trevor to commit the home invasions so he can make them a campaign issue.
When Trevor tries to kill Hillary Ross, Preston's main rival in the mayoral race, the BAU intercepts him, prompting Trevor to shoot agent Emily Prentiss in the arm. During the ensuing standoff, Morgan tells Trevor that Preston had his family murdered, but Trevor refuses to believe it. He tries to shoot Morgan, who is forced to return fire, killing him. The BAU then arrests Preston for orchestrating the murders, and is presumably imprisoned for life.