A prosecutor is investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate against an “admitted” Ku Klux Klan leader who allegedly revved his vehicle’s engine and drove into peaceful protesters.
Harry Rogers was arrested and charged with assault and battery, attempted malicious wounding and felony vandalism after the incident in the US state of Virginia late on Sunday afternoon (local time).
There were no reports of serious injuries.
“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,” Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said in a statement.
“We are investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate.”
Taylor also said in the statement an “attack on peaceful protesters is heinous and despicable”.
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, 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 statement 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 statement 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.
The attacker, James A Fields, is serving multiple life sentences.
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