Four Hit With Federal Rioting Charges For Role In 2017 Charlottesville Rally

on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

Four men allegedly associated with a militant white supremacist organization have been arrested on federal rioting charges in connection with the the August 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Four individuals—Cole Evan White, Benjamin Drake Daley, Michel Paul Miselis and Thomas Walter Gillen—were hit with one count each of federal rioting and conspiracy to riot charges, according to federal court documents unsealed in Virginia on Tuesday.

The four alleged members of the violent southern California-based Rise Above Movement (RAM) traveled to Charlottesville with the intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot,” by according to a sworn affidavit by Dino Cappuzzo of the Virginia State Police. Cappuzzo was working with federal authorities on this case.

Each of the men face a maximum of ten years in prison, according to U.S. officials.

At the Aug. 11 march on the University of Virginia campus, white supremacists allegedly including White, Daley, Miselis and Gillen marched with tiki torches yelling, “Jews will not replace us.” The next day, they took up arms and fanned out through the city streets, brawling with counter-protesters and shouting hate speech.

On the afternoon of Aug. 12, a car allegedly driven by white supremacist James Fields Jr. slammed into a group of demonstrators, killing Heather Heyer. Federal charges were brought against Fields in June.

In an extensive investigation published in July, ProPublica reported on RAM’s involvement in the Charlottesville rally. Miselis, who worked as an aerospace engineer for defense contractor Northrop Grumman and had a U.S. government security clearance, lost his job the day after the report came out.

The charges against the four RAM members are based largely on “open-source research” conducted by the FBI, per the affidavit. That appears to consist primarily of posts the group shared on their public Twitter account, the ProPublica story, and YouTube videos where they can be seen attacking counter-protesters both in Charlottesville and at 2017 events in California.

In screenshots, Daley can be seen “assaulting counter-protesters by punching, kicking and head butting,” while White was captured grabbing “a non-violent counter-protester” and “head-butt[ing] a clergyman.” Screenshots of counter-protesters lying on the ground or bleeding profusely after these attacks are also included in the affidavit.

RAM claims to promote “‘clean living,’ physical fitness and mixed martial arts” techniques, encouraging young men to espouse an anti-addiction, hyper-masculine lifestyle. Their Twitter feed is full of pictures of their members working out shirtless in sun-drenched parks, faces covered by skull masks.

Cappuzzo alleged this physical training is simply preparation to “engage in fighting and violence at political rallies.” The social media accounts of RAM and the four arrested members are full of mentions of their white supremacist, anti-Semitic beliefs, and Daley “made various admissions about committing acts of violence” in Charlottesville after returning to southern California, per the affidavit.

Read the document below.

This post has been updated.

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