White supremacist group members charged with violence at rallies


Published 8:50 PM EDT Oct 24, 2018

White supremacist group members charged with violence at rallies

The leader and three members of a California-based white supremacist group have been charged with attacking counter-protesters, journalists and a police officer at political rallies throughout the state in 2017, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said Wednesday.

The men and other members of the "Rise Above Movement" sought to "organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on riots" in Huntington Beach, Berkeley, San Bernardino and the deadly Charlottesville rally, the office said. 

Robert Rundo, 28, who allegedly founded the group, was denied bail Wednesday after first appearing in court on Monday. Robert Boman, 25, and Tyler Laube, 22, were both arrested Wednesday morning, prosecutors said, while Aaron Eason, 38, remains at large.

The charges come just weeks after a federal grand jury in Virginia indicted four other alleged members of the group on similar charges linked to the Charlottesville rally, during which a white supremacist killed Heather Heyer and injured more than a dozen others.

"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," U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California 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."

According to an affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, RAM is a "combat-ready, militant group of a new nationalist white supremacy/identity movement" that trained members to fight and coordinated attendance at political rallies.

At a Huntington Beach "Make America Great Again" rally in March 2017, Rundo, Boman and Laube allegedly attacked multiple people, including two journalists, prosecutors said.

According to the affidavit, Laube grabbed one journalist by the shoulder then punched him in the face three times. Members of RAM later celebrated the assault when it was highlighted on a neo-Nazi website, "Daily Stormer," the affidavit alleges.

Rundo was also arrested at an April rally in Berkeley for punching a "defenseless person" and a police officer, prosecutors said. Boman and Eason were allegedly violent at the rally, too, according to the affidavit.

Members of the group attacked counter-protesters at an "Anti-Islamic Law” rally in San Bernardino in June 2017, the affidavit also alleges.

The four charged in Virginia attended rallies in California, at which they allegedly committed acts of violence, prosecutors said.

In addition to the violence at rallies, Rundo allegedly maintained the group's Twitter account, which posted photos and videos of the men training in hand-to-hand combat and of their alleged assaults at rallies, according to the affidavit.

Rundo and two of the men charged in Virginia celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday this spring in Europe, where they met with other white supremacy extremist groups, according to the affidavit.

The four men charged in California could face up to 10 years in federal prison if found guilty.

Contribtuing: The Associated Press. Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

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