4 White Supremacist Group Members Federally Charged For Traveling To Riot
Charlottesville, VA – Four members of a Californian white supremacist group have been arrested on allegations that they traveled to Charlottesville in 2017 to incite a riot that left one woman dead and dozens injured.
According to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) affidavit, the four men are members of the Rise Above Movement (RAM).
According to the ADL, R.A.M. consists of several dozen loosely affiliated neo-Nazis and racist skinheads who were formerly known as DIY Division, but rebranded themselves as the Rise Above Movement in the spring of 2017.
"This is a group that essentially subscribes to an anti-Semitic, racist ideology, and then organizes, trains, and deploys to various political rallies, not only to espouse this particular ideology but also to engage in acts of violence against folks who are taking a contrary point of view," U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said during a Charlottesville news conference, according to the Associated Press.
Cole White, 24, Benjamin Daley, 25, Thomas Gillen, 34, and Michael Miselis, 29, were all arrested early Tuesday morning, and have each been charged with conspiracy to riot and traveling to incite riots, Cullen said.
They face a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.
According to the FBI affidavit, the four men were “among the most violent individuals present” during the August 2017 rallies at the University of Virginia campus and the downtown Charlottesville area.
Investigators said they have video and photo evidence that showed the men attacking counterprotesters, “which in some cases resulted in serious injuries,” the Associated Press reported.
They have also been accused of carrying out “acts of violence” during other rallies, including Berkeley and Huntington Beach, according to the FBI.
“This wasn’t in our view the lawful exercise of First Amendment rights,” Cullen said, according to ProPublica. “These guys came to Charlottesville to commit violent acts, and this wasn’t the first time they’ve done it.”
Unlike many "patriot" rallies that are falsely labeled as racist, the attendees of the Unite the Right rally were actually predominately self-professed racists and included numerous white supremacist groups.
Heather Heyer was with a group of antifa blocking traffic in the middle of the day when a car appeared to intentionally ram into the crowd, killing her.
Neo-Nazi James Fields was arrested for Heyer’s death, and faces approximately 30 federal charges in relation to her murder and the injuries sustained by over two dozen others.
A Virginia State Police helicopter that was monitoring the rally also crashed, killing two state troopers, according to the Associated Press.
During the chaos, the men allegedly assaulted multiple people, including an African-American man, a minister wearing a clerical collar, and two women, Cullen said.
According to ProPublica, Miselis was a University of California, Los Angeles doctoral student, and had a U.S. government security clearance to work for defense contractor Northrop Gruman. He has since been fired by the company.
RAM, which is based in southern California, had an estimated 50 members in 2017, ProPublica reported.
Many of the group’s members have served time in jail or prison for violent offenses including robbery, assault, and weapon-related crimes.
“We’re not finished,” Cullen said on Tuesday, according to ProPublica. “We’re going to continue these investigations until we reach a point where we’re satisfied that our federal interests have been vindicated.”