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Ku Klux Klan leader drove truck into crowd of peaceful protesters, Virginia officials say

"We lived through this in Charlottesville in 2017," Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor said. "This egregious criminal act will not go unpunished."

A Virginia man who is alleged to have driven his truck into a crowd of peaceful protesters over the weekend is an "admitted leader" of the Ku Klux Klan, officials said Monday.

In a statement, Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor described the man, identified as Harry Rogers, 36, as "a propagandist of Confederate ideology." A "cursory glance" at his social media accounts and his admissions to authorities revealed that he was a leader of the white supremacist group, she said.

IMAGE: Harry H. Rogers
Harry H. Rogers in a jail photo.Henrico Jail

Rogers is charged with assault, battery, attempted malicious wounding and felony vandalism in the incident Sunday night north of downtown Richmond, she said. Authorities are also investigating whether hate crime charges should be brought, she said.

Taylor said Rogers drove down a median before revving his engine and driving into the protesters. A person who was wounded in the incident doesn't appear to have serious injuries, she added.

Taylor noted that she had participated in a different protest for equality and justice on the same day.

"Protesters acting peaceably, well within their constitutional rights of assembly, should not have to fear violence," she said. "We lived through this in Charlottesville in 2017. I promise that this egregious criminal act will not go unpunished."

A woman was killed and 19 other people were injured when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. The driver, James Fields, was sentenced to life in prison on federal hate crime charges last year.

Rogers, who is being held without bond in a Henrico County jail, made his first court appearance Monday. It wasn't clear whether he entered a plea. His attorney, George Townsend, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Full coverage of George Floyd's death and protests around the country

The incident comes amid widespread protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Four police officers, including one who was captured on video with his knee in Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, have been charged.

Many of the demonstrations that swept across U.S. cities in the two weeks since then have been peaceful, although allegations of property destruction, looting and violence have accompanied some of them.