Federal prosecutors have charged four members of the Rise Above Movement, a California-based white supremacist group, with attacking demonstrators and attempting to incite riots at political rallies around the country.
Robert Rundo, the 28-year-old co-founder of RAM, was taken into custody on Sunday at the Los Angeles International Airport. Tyler Laube, 22, and Robert Boman, 25, were arrested Wednesday morning. The fourth man, 38-year-old Aaron Eason, remains at large, authorities said.
The announcement comes just weeks after authorities arrested four other members of the group ― Cole Evan White, Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Miselis and Thomas Walter Gillen ― in connection with the violence at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. A 32-year-old woman who was among hundreds of counterprotesters died when she was hit by a car allegedly driven by a white supremacist.
In the new indictments, Rundo, Laube, Boman and Eason are charged with using “facilities of interstate commerce with the intent to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on riots,” according to a criminal complaint obtained by The New York Times.
Rundo, Boman, and Laube are accused of attacking counterprotesters at four political rallies in 2017 ― at a March 25 “Make America Great Again” rally in Rundo’s hometown of Huntington Beach; a demonstration at the University of California, Berkeley, campus on April 15; a June 10 “Anti-Islamic Law” protest in San Bernardino; and in Charlottesville on Aug. 11-12.
According to the complaint, video footage of the rally in Huntington Beach show Laube grabbing and punching a journalist and Rundo assaulting multiple protesters.
Rundo was arrested at the Berkeley demonstration the following month for punching a police officer.
“Every American has a right to peacefully organize, march and protest in support of their beliefs ― but no one has the right to violently assault their political opponents.”
An affidavit filed in support of the complaint says the men used the internet to coordinate “combat training,” as well as attendance and travel prior to the events, and then to “celebrate their acts of violence in order to recruit members for future events,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is leading the investigation.
A Los Angeles district judge ordered Rundo to be detained pending trial. Boman and Laube await court appearances.
“Every American has a right to peacefully organize, march and protest in support of their beliefs ― but no one has the right to violently assault their political opponents,” federal prosecutor Nick Hanna said in a statement. “The allegations describe an orchestrated effort to squelch free speech as members of the conspiracy traveled to multiple locations to attack those who hold different views. This case demonstrates our commitment to preserve and protect the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Rundo and two of the men charged in the Charlottesville case traveled to Europe earlier this year to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday and to meet with members of other white supremacy extremist groups.
In a hearing on Wednesday, the judge deemed Rundo a flight risk and denied him bail, according to The Los Angeles Times. Prosecutors also noted his criminal history and said authorities who searched his home discovered a large framed portrait of Hitler.