A self-described Ku Klux Klan leader who drove a vehicle into a crowd of peaceful protesters demonstrating against the killing of George Floyd in the US state of Virginia is being investigated for possible hate crimes, a county attorney said on Monday.
The man has been charged with several offences after he “recklessly” drove into a crowd on Sunday, Henrico County’s Commonwealth Attorney Shannon Taylor said in a statement posted on Twitter.
US media reported that one protester was injured in the incident near Richmond. The person was checked at the scene by emergency responders and refused further treatment.
“Harry H Rogers, 36, is charged with assault and battery, attempted malicious wounding, and felony vandalism. Additional charges are being investigated,” Taylor said in a separate tweet.
In the statement, Taylor said Rogers “revved the engine” and then drove into the crowd.
“The accused, by his own admission and by a cursory glance at social media, is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology,” Taylor added.
“We are investigating whether hate crimes charges are appropriate.”
Rogers appeared in Henrico court on Monday where he accepted a court-appointed lawyer, CBS-affiliate WTVR reported.
The protests were part of the wave of demonstrations against police brutality and racism that has spread throughout the United States and around the world.
They were sparked by the May 25 death in custody of Floyd, an unarmed Black man, who was killed when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
A public memorial service was held on Monday in Houston, where he grew up. Some 6,000 people attended.
Under a blazing Texas sun, mourners wearing T-shirts with Floyd’s picture or the words “I Can’t Breathe” – one of the other things he cried out repeatedly while pinned down by the police officer – waited for hours to pay their respects. Floyd’s body, dressed in a brown suit, lay in an open casket.
Shortly after the memorial ended, Floyd’s casket was placed in a hearse and escorted by police back to a funeral home.
Chauvin has been charged with Floyd’s murder and faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
He made his first court appearance on Monday.