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An 'admitted leader of the KKK' is sentenced to 6 years in prison for driving his truck through Black Lives Matter protesters

CNN logo CNN 8/12/2020 By Laura Ly, CNN
a man looking at the camera © Henrico County Sheriff's Office

A Glen Allen, Virginia, man has been convicted of six misdemeanor charges and sentenced to six years in prison for driving his car through a group of Black Lives Matter protesters in June, online court filings state.

Harry Rogers, 37, was sentenced on Monday to 12 months in prison for each of the six charges for simple assault, destruction of property and failure to stop at the scene of an accident, according to court records.

Court records show that Rogers still faces three felony counts for attempted malicious wounding -- one count for each of the three people injured in the incident. None of the injuries were life-threatening, Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor said.

Rogers has not yet entered a plea to the felony charges, and his attorney has not responded to CNN's multiple requests for comment.

Several witnesses at the June 7th Black Lives Matter protest in Henrico County, Virginia, reported that a vehicle had "revved their engine and drove through the protesters occupying the roadway," Henrico County Police said.

Rogers was arrested, and a victim who had called to report the incident was checked by rescue workers at the scene and refused further treatment, according to police.

The incident drew parallels to the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, during which 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters gathered to oppose a "Unite the Right" rally of White nationalist and other right-wing groups.

Taylor said in a statement in June that the "egregious criminal act will not go unpunished."

"We lived through this in Virginia in Charlottesville in 2017," Taylor said. "Hate has no place here under my watch."

Prosecutors say Rogers had KKK paraphernalia in his truck and home

Rogers is described by prosecutors as "an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology."

Police officers who arrested Rogers searched his truck and home and found multiple weapons and clips of ammunition, several KKK and Confederate flag patches and Klan literature in the car's glove compartment, according to Taylor. She added that one of the patches was for a local KKK chapter that Rogers admitted to being the leader of.

Taylor also said that Rogers broadcasted live on Facebook at least twice on June 7. She said one video was thought to be filmed on his way to the protest, telling his friends to join him. Another video was believed to be filmed after he had driven his car into protesters, "regaling in how he revved the engine and drove right on through," Taylor said.

Rogers was not charged with a hate crime

Rogers was ultimately not charged with any hate crimes, despite prosecutors seeking to add hate crime sentencing enhancements to his charges.

A judge rejected the hate crime enhancements to the assault charges, ruling that the three White victims were not targeted because of their race. But Rogers was still sentenced to the maximum amount of time for each of the charges.

Taylor believes that current Virginia law regarding hate crimes is "insufficient," and that a new law is needed for crimes "when one acts with hatred against a group of people supporting each other," irrespective of the victim's race or ethnicity.

"Our current law recognizes the ethnicity of the victim as a basis for our hate crime, but our current laws are insufficient; we need a law that will capture the hateful and vengeful intent of a defendant regardless of the skin color of the victim," Taylor said. "A devout member of the KKK, whose ideology believes that people of color are inferior, does not believe in the Black Lives Matter movement. Any action towards a Black Lives Matter movement is one based in hate and that should be a reason to impose a harsher sentence."

The hearing for Rogers on his remaining felony charges is scheduled for September 14.

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