The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Virginia charged four California members of a militant white-supremacist group under federal rioting laws for their part in the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, of Redondo Beach, Calif., Thomas Walter Gillen, 34, of Redondo Beach, Calif., Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale, Calif., and Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, Calif., were arrested by federal agents early this morning.
The four are member of the Rise Above Movement, prosecutors said, a Southern California group that refers to themselves as the “premier MMA (mixed martial arts) club of the Alt-Right,” according to an Anti-Defamation League profile, which adds that the membership “has deep roots in California’s racist skinhead movement, and includes individuals who have faced serious criminal charges, including assault, robbery and weapon offenses.” The members “believe they are fighting against a ‘modern world’ corrupted by the ‘destructive cultural influences’ of liberals, Jews, Muslims, and the effects of non-white immigration.”
Daley is a leader of the group who has been featured in the group’s recruitment videos and “has a history of using social media to promote anti-Semitic cartoons and conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the banking, media and legal system,” the ADL noted.
Miselis was an aerospace engineer at Northrop Grumman at the time of the protests, but parted ways with the company after he was outed by a ProPublica and Frontline investigation.
Prosecutors says that photos and video confirmed all four were at the torchlit march on the University of Virginia campus on the eve of the Unite the Right rally as well as the protest itself.
The FBI began investigating the quartet, the criminal complaint says, after receiving information that the four “committed multiple acts of violence against counter-protesters, which in some cases resulted in serious injuries.” The men “are seen in video footage committing acts of violence, assaulting counter-protesters by punching, kicking and head butting.”
Each are charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots statute and one count of violating the federal riots statute.
“This case should serve as another example of the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting the life, liberty, and civil rights of all our citizens,” United States Attorney Thomas Cullen said today. “Any individual who has or plans to travel to this district with the intent to engage in acts of violence will be prosecuted and held accountable for those actions.”
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division Adam S. Lee noted that it “is important for communities like Charlottesville to remember who the good guys are – who is sworn to protect them – and support them in their mission.”
“The FBI has worked extensively with Virginia State Police and our local partners to achieve justice for those injured during the rally,” Lee said. “Their partnership is how we have arrived at this point in our investigations.”