The FBI has arrested the leader and two other members of a California neo-Nazi gang known for carrying out brutal physical assaults on their political enemies.
Rise Above Movement (RAM) founder Robert Rundo was tracked to Central America by U.S. authorities and brought back to the U.S. Sunday, where he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, FBI spokeswoman Katherine Gulotti confirmed to TPM.
Fellow RAM members Robert Boman and Tyler Laube were both arrested Wednesday morning in southern California, Gulotti said. A fourth man, Aaron Eason, was also named in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles, but he has yet to be apprehended by law enforcement.
All four were charged with rioting and conspiracy.
“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,” said Nick Hanna, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California.
RAM members gained national recognition for engaging in acts of violence at political events throughout 2017, in California and at the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally. Though the group claims to promote “’clean living,’ physical fitness and mixed martial arts,” it is quite open on social media about its participation in these street brawls and about its white supremacist beliefs.
Four other RAM members—Benjamin Daley, Michael Miselis, Thomas Gillen and Cole White—were indicted earlier this month on conspiracy to riot charges for beating counter-protesters in Charlottesville.
Texts, Twitter direct messages, photos and videos reviewed by FBI special agent Scott Bierwirth and detailed in an affidavit included in the criminal complaint provides new insight into how the group allegedly operated.
(FBI affidavit: photos posted to the RAM Twitter account)
RAM members “acted in concert to commit acts of violence, and planned such acts in advance using the Internet,” according to Bierwirth. They also allegedly enlisted some members to serve as photographers, documenting their street fights so that they could “celebrate their acts of violence in order to recruit members for future events.”
Their first major public appearance was a March 25, 2017 rally in Huntington Beach, California, where they allegedly peeled off from a “Make America Great Again” rally to target a group of counter-protesters. Videos reviewed by the FBI show Laube grabbing a journalist and punching him in the face three times, as well as Rundo punching a protester in the back of the head.
(FBI affidavit: Rundo assaulting a counter-protester as other RAM members look on)
After the rally, RAM members triumphantly shared an article on white supremacist site The Daily Stormer headlined “Trumpenkriegers Physically Remove Antifa Homos In Huntington Beach,” according to the affidavit. Bierwirth writes that “Trumpenkreigers” is a term used to mean “Fighters for Trump,” while “physical removal” is a reference to the white supremacist goal of forcibly excommunicating political foes.
RAM members allegedly used the photos and coverage of the Huntington event to drum up excitement for a rally the following month in Berkeley, California. They exchanged texts coordinating a “hand-to-hand and formation fighting” session, where members would receive “shield and stick training,” per the affidavit.
At the Berkeley rally, RAM members taped their hands like mixed martial arts fighters and wore skeleton masks. They carried signs reading “Defend America” and “da goyim know”—a phrase, Bierwirth writes, that white supremacists use “to refer to their supposed knowledge of a Jewish conspiracy to control world affairs.” (Signs pictured at top).
Soon after the event started, they allegedly jumped an orange police barrier to pummel counter-protesters, according to the affidavit. Rundo was arrested after assaulting a protester who was lying “defenseless” on the ground, and subsequently punching the police officer who tried to intervene.
In August 2017, several members of the gang, including Rundo and Miselis, traveled to Charlottesville, where they committed unprovoked assaults on several counter-protesters, according to the FBI.
RAM members’ commitment to extremist political movements even allegedly took them abroad.
In the spring of 2018, Miselis, Rundo and Daley allegedly traveled to Germany, Italy and Ukraine to “celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday and meet with members of European white supremacy extremist groups,” according to the Bierwirth affidavit. Bierwirth cites Customs and Border Patrol interviews and social media posts as evidence for the trip, where the trio met with the head of Azov Battalion, “a paramilitary unit of the Ukrainian National Guard which is known for its association with neo-Nazi ideology.”
Read the full complaint below.