A man who is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan is accused of driving his truck through protesters during a Richmond, Virginia, demonstration June 7 as they peacefully protested racial injustice and excessive force used by police in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an African American who was killed by a white police officer on May 25.
According to Henrico County Police spokesperson Lieutenant A. M. Robertson, “several witnesses reported that a vehicle revved their engine and drove through the protesters occupying the roadway.”
The incident happened at about 5:45 p.m. on Lakeside Avenue. A 36-year-old man, Harry H. Rogers, was arrested for the crime and is currently being held at the Henrico County Jail.
Here is what you need to know about Harry H. Rogers:
1. Rogers Is Accused of Purposely Driving a Truck Into Protesters in Richmond but No One Was Seriously Hurt
According to Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor, Rogers drove recklessly on a median where people were protesting, drove up to protesters where he revved the engine and then drove into the protesters.
Robertson said no one was badly injured, but one person was checked out at the scene by emergency medical workers and refused further treatment. That adult victim was the one who called the police.
According to someone who tweeted that she was a witness to Rogers disrupting the protest, he also followed protesters and filmed them.
Other protesters took note of him, and photos.
2. Officials Are Considering Whether They Will File Hate Crime Charges Against Rogers Because of His Affiliation With the KKK
According to Taylor, Rogers “by his own admission and by a cursory glance at social media is an admitted leader of the KKK and a propagandist for confederate ideology. We are investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate,” she said in a statement.
Taylor said they will prosecute Rogers to the “full extent of the law,” calling his alleged action “heinous” and “despicable.”
Rogers’ current charges are attempted malicious wounding and destruction of property, both felonies, and misdemeanor assault and battery, according to WTVR CBS 6. While the investigation continues, he is being held without bond. Law enforcement and Taylor’s office are both asking witnesses to come forward with any more information.
In Virginia, hate crimes are defined as “crimes committed against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
According to the Virginia State Attorney’s Office, in 2017 there were 202 Hate Crimes reported in the state. Of those, 38 were assaults based on racial bias, 44 were property or vandalism crimes based on racial bias and 68 were bias-motivated crimes against African Americans.
Taylor said in her statement, “Protestors acting peaceably, well within their constitutional rights of assembly, should not have to fear violence. We lived through this in Virginia in Charlottesville in 2017. I promise Henricoans that these egregious criminal acts will not go unpunished. Hate has no place here under my watch.”
3. In 2016 Rogers Wore a White Robe with KKK Insignia & Held a Confederate Battle Flag at a War Memorial Site
Rogers, who goes by “Skip,” stood outside the Colonial Heights War Memorial in March 2016 in a white robe with red trim and a KKK symbol on it while waving a confederate flag, according to the Progress-Index. At the time, Rogers wouldn’t say why he was doing it.
He told Progress-Index, “I’m exercising my First Amendment right,” he said, and that he planned to stand there “until my clothes get cold.”
In 2015, the Progress-Index ran a story about Rogers, who was an organizer of an NAACP (National Association for Awakening Confederate Patriots) “Confederate flag ride,” with about 20 vehicles waving the flag through the town of Petersburg.
The last public posts on the NAACP Facebook page are from 2015. One post reads that the group has one common goal, which is to “bring America back to the way it’s supposed to be.”
4. Various Posts on Social Media Say Rogers Has Been Involved in White Supremacist Demonstrations for Years
Photos show a man who looks like Rogers participating in several rallies and protests involving white supremacist groups and far-right-wing rallies.
A twitter user who says he tweets about Virginia politics and “the ridiculousness of the far-right,” @Goad Gastby, said one of the pictures he posted showed Rogers with the Virginia Flaggers. He posted his tweet in 2018.
According to their Facebook page, the Virginia Flaggers say they are “Citizens of the Commonwealth who stand AGAINST those who would desecrate our Confederate Monuments and memorials, and FOR our Confederate Veterans.”
5. Rogers Sometimes Uses the Last Name Tinsley and Owns a Firewood Business
Rogers, who goes by Skip though his given name is Harry, also sometimes uses the last name Tinsley, which according to Heavy’s research is a family name. He owns a company called Skip’s Firewood Service, which does lot clearing, yard cleanup, debris removal, firewood and log splitting, according to the webpage.
Background reports say he lives in Chester, but according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch Rogers lives in Hanover. Both cities are near Richmond.
Little of note comes up for him in court records in Henrico or Chesterfield counties, but he is now looking at felony charges. According to Virginia Law, his malicious wounding charge is a third-degree felony, and he is charged with felony vandalism.