protest attack

Virginia Prosecutor: KKK Leader Attacked Protest, Hate Charge Weighed

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A Virginia prosecutor said Monday she is investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate against an “admitted” Ku Klux Klan leader who authorities say revved his vehicle's engine and drove through peaceful protesters occupying a Richmond-area roadway.

There were no reports of serious injuries from the incident late Sunday afternoon. Harry H. Rogers was arrested and charged with assault and battery, attempted malicious wounding and felony vandalism, Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor said in a statement.

“The accused, by his own admission and by a cursory glance at social media, is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology. We are investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate,” Taylor said in the statement.

Rogers, 36, of Hanover County, made an initial court appearance Monday morning where he agreed to accept a court-appointed attorney and was denied bond, Richmond TV station WTVR reported.

The attorney listed for him in court records, George Townsend, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Rogers told the judge he is a self-employed landscaper.

Police said in a news release that an adult victim reported the incident, which came amid days of protests in the Richmond area and around the country over the death of George Floyd.

The victim was checked by a rescue team and refused any further treatment, the news release said.

Taylor's statement said Rogers was driving recklessly in the vicinity of the protest, drove up to the protesters, revved the engine and drove into the group.

“The allegations are incredibly serious ... particularly during this time when we are having real conversations about racism, real conversations about social inequalities and the idea of the injustices that are happening," Taylor said in a phone interview.

In her statement, Taylor noted a similar attack that took place the day of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. An avowed white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of peaceful anti-racism demonstrators, killing one woman and injuring dozens more.

On Aug. 12, 2017, James Alex Fields Jr. drove a car into a crowd of people counterprotesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which drew hundreds of white nationalists to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The attack killed anti-racism activist Heather Heyer.

Fields was sentenced to multiple life sentences on federal hate crimes charges and life plus 419 years for first-degree murder and charges for injuries to others in the attack.

“We lived through this in Virginia in Charlottesville in 2017,” Taylor said. “I promise Henricoans that this egregious criminal act will not go unpunished. Hate has no place here under my watch.”

Last week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of a towering statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee along Richmond’s Monument Avenue

AP/NBCWashington
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