A Virginia man who allegedly drove his truck into a crowd of peaceful protesters over the weekend is an “admitted leader” of the Ku Klux Klan, officials said Monday.
In a statement, Henrico Commonwealth Attorney Shannon Taylor described the man, identified by NBC affiliate WWBT as Harry Rogers, 36, as “a propagandist of Confederate ideology.” A "cursory glance" at his social media and his own admissions to authorities revealed that he was a leader of the white supremacist group, she said.
Rogers has been charged with assault, battery, attempted malicious wounding and felony vandalism in the Sunday night incident north of downtown Richmond, she said. Authorities are also investigating whether hate crime charges should be brought against him, she said.
Rogers allegedly drove down a median before revving his engine and driving into the protesters, Taylor said. A person who was wounded in the incident doesn’t appear to have serious injuries, she added.
Taylor noted that she participated in a different protest on the same day for equality and justice.
“Protesters acting peaceably, well within their constitutional rights of assembly, should not have to fear violence,” she said. “We lived through this in Charlottesville in 2017. I promise that this egregious criminal act will not go unpunished.”
A woman was killed and 19 people were injured after a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. The driver, James Fields, was sentenced to life in prison for federal hate crime charges last year.
Rogers, who is being held without bond at the Henrico County jail, made his first court appearance Monday. It wasn’t clear if he entered a plea. His lawyer, George Townsend, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The incident comes amid widespread protests over the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Four police officers, including one who was captured on video with his knee in Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, have been charged in his death.
Many of the demonstrations that swept across U.S. cities in the two weeks since have been peaceful, though allegations of property destruction, looting and violence have accompanied some of them.