HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Hanover man who claims to be the “highest-ranking member of the KKK” and is accused of driving into a crowd of protesters in Richmond faced a judge Monday afternoon.
Harry Rogers was arrested after witnesses said he drove into a group of protesters near the A.P. Hill statue in Richmond’s northside neighborhood on June 7. One witness told 8News, Rogers’ truck had “Trump 2020”, “Guns Save Lives”, and Confederate flag stickers on it.
On June 25, Henrico’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor filed the following charges against Rogers:
- Four counts of assault with hate crimes (as permitted by Virginia Code 18.2-57 A)
- Two counts of felonious attempted malicious wounding
- One count of felony hit and run
On Monday, Rogers was found guilty of four misdemeanor simple assault charges, one misdemeanor property damage charge, and one misdemeanor hit and run, with each count carrying a 12-month sentence.
He was not found guilty of hate crimes, however.
Three remaining felony charges are being certified to a grand jury on Sept. 14. Rogers will spend at least six years behind bars.
During the trial, Henrico General District Court Jude Thomas Bondurant, Jr. heard testimonies from people who were at the protest including the people who report being hit by the truck. Police were also present and a gang expert who described KKK materials found in Roger’s car and home.
Rogers was seen handcuffed in court Monday. Inside the courtroom, two of the three victims testified. Mary Repole said she saw Rogers’ car behind the group of protesters which prompted her to walk back to try and “give protesters more time” to distance themselves from the pickup. “I didn’t want to be run over,” she said. Repole said she jumped on top of Rogers’ hood so she wouldn’t be thrust under it.
All of the testifying victims say Rogers was driving slowly, some described his driving as “inching forward.” His defense attorney, George Townsend, argued the victims didn’t have to step in front of Rogers’ vehicle and could have moved out of his way.
“Why were you comfortable doing that?” he asked Richard Sebastian, a bicyclist who reports being hit and his foot run over. In court, he responded, “I was terrified. I was not comfortable,” he said. “What I immediately thought of was Charlottesville and the thought of it happening here.”
Several officers who responded to the scene also testified as their body camera video was played for the court. In one of the officer’s video, Rogers claims his son, a passenger, was struck in the face by someone in the crowd as he was pulling up. Officers testifying said there’s no evidence his son was hit in the face. In the same video, Rogers said he did not hit anyone with his car. The footage showed a search of Rogers’ truck led to the finding of numerous ammunition magazines and weapons.
One Henrico officer, Igor Tsvetkov, said Rogers pulled him aside after the incident and said he was a “president of the Virginia sector of the KKK.” The officer also recalled Rogers saying that 20 people in his KKK chapter were unrecognizable at the protest but didn’t act because Rogers “told them to stand down”.
Prosecutors showed a Facebook Live that Rogers streamed while driving. He asked his followers to meet him at the Sunday march. “Come on y’all, let’s go have some fun,” he said. Rogers said they needed to “protect” the A.P. Hill statue after hearing news that protesters tore a statue in Richmond’s Monroe park down the night before.
Rogers recorded a second Facebook live while driving. In the video, he admitted to driving up onto the median and revving his engine. “They [protesters] spread like cockroaches,” he said. In other social media posts shown to the judge, Rogers made comments like “Black lives splatter.”
A search of Rogers’ home in Hanover found a KKK robe, a “Klan Bible,” KKK accessories, a large KKK “White Power Flag” and additional weapons.
In a statement, Taylor said she had no doubt that Rogers was “motivated by bigotry and racism” and should be severely punished for his behavior.
“Ultimately the end still worked out in the commonwealth’s favor because the sentence enhancement just means the court must impose a certain time and the court went ahead and imposed all of the time,” Taylor added. “So even though the court did not find the sentence enhancement that the victims were selected for race, the court still did impose a full 12 months for each of the assault charges.”