Four members of a militant white supremacist group from California have been arrested on charges they traveled to Virginia last year to incite a riot and attack counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally that turned deadly, federal authorities said Tuesday. The defendants—Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Miselis, Thomas Walter Gillen, and Cole Evan White—are part of the Rise Above Movement, which espouses anti-Semitic views and meets regularly in public parks to train in boxing and other fighting techniques, according to an affidavit written by an FBI agent. The affidavit alleges that based on photo and video evidence, the four men were "among the most violent individuals present in Charlottesville" in August of last year during the Unite the Right rally, a torch-lit march on the University of Virginia campus and a larger rally in downtown the following day, the AP reports. They each face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
The men have also taken part in "acts of violence" at political rallies in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California, and other places, the affidavit alleges. "This is a group that essentially subscribes to an anti-Semitic, racist ideology, and then organizes, trains, and deploys to various political rallies, not only to espouse this particular ideology but also to engage in acts of violence against folks who are taking a contrary point of view," US Attorney Thomas Cullen said at a news conference in Charlottesville held to announce the charges. Cullen said investigators sifted through "an incredible volume" of video and still photographs and found there was "no provocation" for the men to engage in violence against counterprotesters; they made their way to the rally with their hands taped, "ready to do street battle," he said. Then they engaged in punching, kicking, head-butting, and pushing, assaulting an African-American man, two women, and a minister who was wearing a clerical collar, Cullen said. They allegedly caused serious injuries. (Read more Charlottesville, Va. stories.)