Virginia Man Who Drove Into Protesters Gets 6 Years in Prison

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A man who prosecutors described as a Ku Klux Klan leader was sentenced this week to six years in prison after driving into a group of Black Lives Matter protesters outside Richmond, Va., in June.

The man, Harry H. Rogers, 36, was convicted on Monday by a judge in Henrico County District Court of six misdemeanors, including assault, destruction of property and hit-and-run charges. He was handed the maximum penalty on each count.

Mr. Rogers still faces three felony counts of attempted malicious wounding.

The charges all stemmed from an episode on June 7. The Henrico County police were notified that witnesses at a protest north of Richmond had reported that a vehicle revved its engine and “drove through the protesters occupying the roadway.” There were no life-threatening injuries reported, according to Lt. Matthew Pecka of the Henrico County Police Department. Shannon L. Taylor, the commonwealth’s attorney for Henrico County, said three people were injured.

Ms. Taylor described Mr. Rogers in a statement as “an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology.” Despite a decline in organized K.K.K. groups in the United States, there has been a consistent link between criminal activity and the group, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The authorities presented additional charges against Mr. Rogers in late June, including four counts of assault with hate crimes. Although the judge convicted Mr. Rogers of the four assault charges without applying Ms. Taylor’s hate-crime enhancements, Mr. Rogers received the maximum sentence for each of the six counts on which he was convicted.

On Monday, Judge Thomas O. Bondurant Jr. of Henrico General District Court ruled that Mr. Rogers did not target the demonstrators because of their race, WTVR-TV reported. Mr. Rogers’s lawyer had previously argued that because the protesters were white, the hate-crime enhancements didn’t apply, according to the station.

George Townsend, who is listed as Mr. Rogers’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Ms. Taylor said the hate-crime enhancements to the charges against Mr. Rogers were necessary, even if the people Mr. Rogers injured were white demonstrators.

“You were still being selected for race,” she said. “You were still being considered inadequate, inferior because you were supporting the African-American community that the Klan 100 percent says in its own written materials — and part of their ideology that they believe — are lesser human beings.”

There have been numerous instances of drivers striking demonstrators with cars, causing serious and fatal injuries, at some of the protests that have erupted across the country since the death of George Floyd in police custody this spring. In July, Summer Taylor of Seattle died after being struck by a car that entered a closed-off section of an interstate where a small group of protesters were gathered.

In 2017, Heather Heyer was hit and killed after James A. Fields drove his car into counterprotesters at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. Mr. Fields was later sentenced to life in prison.

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