Federal authorities on Tuesday announced charges against four white supremacists involved in last year’s deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In the charges, first reported by HuffPost, a U.S. attorney accused four members of the California-based white supremacist Rise Above Movement of conspiracy to riot. Cole Evan White, Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Miselis, and Thomas Walter Gillen traveled from California to Charlottesville where they acted on a plot to commit violence, according to a criminal complaint. All four were arrested in California this morning, U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said in a press conference.
The charges join a litany of civil and criminal cases stemming from the rally, where a neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing one woman and seriously wounding others.
“Among the most violent individuals present in Charlottesville on August 11-12, 2017 were at least four members and associates of the ‘Rise Above Movement,’ (RAM) a militant white supremacist organization based in Southern California, who had traveled to Charlottesville with the intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit acts in furtherance of a riot,” the criminal complaint reads.
RAM is an openly violent group, members of which have racked up criminal records across the country. Its recruitment efforts and group activities center on martial arts, with a focus on fighting their perceived enemies: Jews, Muslims, immigrants, and the left. A 2017 ProPublica investigation, which estimated RAM to have approximately members, tied the group to a series of bloody attacks over the two-day Charlottesville rally. Three of the four men arrested—Daley, Gillen, and Miselis—were identified in ProPublica investigations. Federal investigators credited the investigation during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
The group’s internet recruitment efforts also helped feds identify members who participated in Unite the Right. The complaint includes multiple screenshots from the group’s social media, where members like Daley are visible. The complaint also includes stills from Unite the Right footage showing those same men involved in violent attacks and marching in a torchlit rally.
Feds obtained a search warrant for Daley’s Facebook messages, in which he bragged about attacking opponents. “We had the[m] completely surrounded,” he wrote, according to the criminal complaint. “I hit like 5 people.”
The complaint also includes Daley’s bank records, which reveal that he purchased athletic tape, black spray paint, and a folding knife after arriving in Charlottesville.
Federal authorities first announced the arrests on Tuesday morning, but did not indicate the identities of the accused, leading white supremacists to speculate that anti-fascist activists had been arrested.
Fields has been charged with a hate crime resulting in the death of Heather Heyer, and 28 more hate crimes for injuring and allegedly attempting to kill other anti-racist protesters.
Prosecutors previously pressed charges against the far-right and counter-protesters. In October 2017, three white nationalists (two of them prominent figures in the movement) were found convicted on misdemeanor charges of failing to disperse from the rally after police declared it an unlawful assembly. Four white nationalists—among them a former Ku Klux Klan leader and a member of a neo-Nazi group—were convicted earlier this year for their role in beating a young black man in a Charlottesville parking garage as the riots raged. Another racist was also charged in the beating, and is awaiting trial.
DeAndre Harris, the victim in the beatdown, was initially charged for his role in the incident. Harris, 20, was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery against a member of the neo-Confederate group League of the South. He was acquitted after it was revealed that he acted in defense of another person.
Another counter-protester, Corey Long, was sentenced to 20 days in prison for disorderly conduct, after he used a spray-paint can as a makeshift flamethrower during a fight with a white supremacist.