Three more alleged members of a Southern California-based white extremist nationalist group were in federal custody Wednesday on suspicion of traveling to various political rallies in California and in Charlottesville, Virginia, to incite riots.
Robert Rundo, an alleged co-founder and leader of the Rise Above Movement, was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport, according to the FBI, while two other members were arrested Wednesday morning.
Rundo, 28, of Huntington Beach, appeared in federal court in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday morning and was ordered to remain jailed without bail. His attorney denied allegations that Rundo was leading RAM or that he was involved in a pattern of “escalating” violence.
Rundo is accused along with Robert Boman, 25, of Torrance, Tyler Laube, 22, of Redondo Beach, and 38-year-old Aaron Eason of Anza with inciting riots or committing acts of violence in furtherance of a riot, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday. Eason remains at large, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Laube and Boman are expected to make their initial appearances before a federal magistrate judge in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon.
“Throughout 2017, the defendants and other RAM members traveled to political rallies, including in Huntington Beach, California, on March 25, 2017, Berkeley, California, on April 15, 2017, San Bernardino, California, on June 20, 2017, and Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11-12, 2017, ” according to an affidavit filed in support of an arrest warrant. “RAM members violently attacked and assaulted counter-protesters at each of these events.”
In court documents, prosecutors allege that members of RAM instigated violence at the Huntington Beach “Make America Great Again” rally near Bolsa Chica State Beach. When a small group of counter-protesters turned up, they were confronted by RAM members, who pushed and punched two reporters from a local news publication, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“As the journalist stumbled backward, Laube grabbed the journalist’s shoulder with his left hand, and punched him three times in the face,” according to a criminal complaint, which also alleges that Rundo and Boman kicked and beat counter-protesters. Much of the violence that day was filmed and posted online, allegedly by the group in order to “recruit more members,” according to federal prosecutors.
The latest arrests come on the heels of the arrests and indictments of four other alleged members of RAM — three of whom are Southland residents — for allegedly inciting the deadly riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.
Those four defendants — Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, of Redondo Beach, Thomas Walter Gillen, 24, of Redondo Beach, Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale, and Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, California — were arrested on federal criminal complaints in the early morning hours of Oct. 2.
They were indicted about a week later in Virginia on one count each of conspiracy to violate the federal riots act and traveling across state lines to participate in or incite a riot.
Federal prosecutors describe RAM as a “white supremacy extremist group.” According to the criminal complaint, Rundo and other defendants used the internet to coordinate combat training in preparation for last year’s rallies, to arrange travel to the events, to coordinate attendance at the events, and to celebrate their acts of violence in order to recruit members for future events.
This past spring, Rundo and other RAM members allegedly traveled to Germany, Ukraine and Italy to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday on April 20 and meet with members of European white supremacy extremist groups, according to the document.
Shortly after that trip, the RAM-affiliated clothing company Right Brand Clothing — of which Rundo is the registered owner — posted photographs on its Instagram page of Rundo and other RAM members in Europe, slap-tagging stickers on various buildings and poles with the RAM logo and anti-immigrant messages, prosecutors contend.
At Wednesday’s detention hearing, Rundo’s attorney, Julia Deixler, argued that her client deserves to be released pending trial due to his “stable lifestyle,” abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and the fact that he holds a steady job.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ryan told U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Stevenson that the defendant has engaged in violence in support of a neo-Nazi ideology, poses a threat to the community and is likely to flee if released.
Rundo, Ryan argued, represents a “combat-ready militant arm of the white supremacist movement.” The prosecutor added that Rundo is tattooed with images of Hitler, traveled to Germany in the spring to celebrate the Nazi leader’s birthday and has shown “an ongoing devotion to the use of violence.”
Stevenson ordered Rundo held in federal custody, finding that he posed “a serious risk” to the community and might flee the district prior to trial.
If convicted of the conspiracy and riots charges in the complaint, each defendant would face a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.