Protests against police brutality have been unfolding around the country in recent days following the police murder of a black man named George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and President Donald Trump has mostly responded to the demonstrations by encouraging violence (in the form of military action) against the protesters, the vast majority of whom are entirely peaceful. This past Sunday, although the man was not immediately explicitly identified as a Trump supporter, one right-winger in Richmond, Virginia, drove his truck into a crowd of peaceful protesters. The attacker, 36-year-old Harry H. Rogers, is an apparent leader of the Ku Klux Klan in the state.
One person received a medical evaluation after the incident, but they apparently did not receive any further treatment. Meanwhile, Rogers has been arrested, and as of Monday, he’s being held without bond. He’s been charged with “attempted malicious wounding, felony vandalism, and assault and battery,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch explains.
In a Monday update about the incident, Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said:
‘While I am grateful that the victim’s injuries do not appear to be serious, an attack on peaceful protesters is heinous and despicable and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. 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.’
In light of the attacker’s support of violent right-wing ideology, Taylor added that her office would be looking into the possibility of adding a hate crimes charge to the criminal charges that Rogers already faces.
According to Taylor’s summary of the incident, Rogers drove down a median on a street where peaceful protesters were assembled, and he then barreled into the crowd. On Sunday, Henrico Police Lieutenant A.M. Robertson explained that “[several] witnesses reported that a vehicle revved their engine and drove through the protesters occupying the roadway.”
This incident is not the first occasion on which a right-winger has attacked protesters with their vehicle. In an infamous 2017 incident, a man named James Fields Jr. rammed his car into a crowd of protesters who had gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to voice their opposition to the far-right movement that Fields is a part of. One woman, Heather Heyer, died in Fields’s attack, and he has since been sentenced to life in prison. Prior to his sentencing, Fields “pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes in a plea agreement in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge that could have led to the death penalty,” NPR reports.
Amy Spitalnick, who leads an organization called Integrity First for America, noted in this new case:
‘The Virginia man who drove his truck into a crowd of protesters is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan… One of his fellow white supremacists did the same thing nearly three years ago, not that far away, in Charlottesville. This is a deliberate tactic.’
The Virginia man who drove his truck into a crowd of protesters is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan: https://t.co/BOk0fp6ttZ
One of his fellow white supremacists did the same thing nearly three years ago, not that far away, in Charlottesville. This is a deliberate tactic.
— Amy Spitalnick (@amyspitalnick) June 8, 2020
When Trump stands in front of the nation and world and trumpets his racist rhetoric, these people hear it and understand that the current president of the United States is on their side.