The head of a neo-Nazi street fighting gang will face charges for allegedly training and preparing his followers to riot and commit violence during protests.
A new indictment, first reported by Raw Story, was returned earlier this week against Robert Rundo, Robert Boman, and Tyler Laube, the founders and leaders of the Rise Above Movement, a violent white nationalist group based in southern California which has become infamous for actively seeking out and engaging in street brawls. The trio first faced charges in 2018 for rioting, although the case has been mired by judicial arguments over free speech. Now, it seems prosecution will proceed.
The Jan. 4 indictment, very similar to the initial one filed in 2018, focuses on Rundo, 32, and his co-conspirators' efforts to train for violence at political rallies and recruit people to their movement. The group would allegedly send out messages recruiting followers to come and train in “hand-to-hand combat” with them in anticipation of street brawls at protests. They would then use photos and videos of the training as propaganda to entice new followers into joining.
The indictment also outlines “group fighting, including 3v3, 1v2, etc.” and references several violent rallies the group was involved in, such as the infamous “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 that led to the death of Heather Heyer. Before the rally, Rundo tweeted out, “Hope we can get y’all some more commie beatdown vids soon—Antifa never learn,” according to the indictment.
The group was also heavily involved in the “Battle of Berkeley,” a series of protests in 2017 in Berkeley, California, where violence exploded between fascists and anti-fascists and resulted in dozens people being injured, some severely. The group celebrated and created propaganda surrounding the violence.
“I’ve been looking at videos. There’s a grey-shirted stormtrooper at the fucking front every, single, time. You guys were lions,” a Rise Above Movement member who attended the Berkeley riot texted another, according to the indictment.
“Total Aryan victory,” the other member responded.
Rundo is a well-known and influential figure in the international white nationalist scene, and the government's fight against him has been a long and winding road. A year after the initial charges were filed against him, Boman, and Laube, the federal government dismissed them after a judge declared their actions were protected by the First Amendment. That too was reversed in 2021, and the government has since resumed prosecution.
Rundo, however, appears to befar away from the United States. Due to recent social media postings, experts believe him to be somewhere in eastern Europe, and some have speculated that he may attempt to avoid extradition now that the indictment has been reintroduced.
Despite Rundo’s separation from the country of his birth, he’s still able to wield sway over the white nationalist movement in the United States. Active Clubs, essentially white nationalist fight clubs dreamed up by Rundo and his cohorts, are popping up across the continent. He’s also heavily involved in the movement's propaganda and finance networks, including several clothing companies and the creation of a media company that produces white nationalist documentaries.
This summer, a group associated with Rundo put on a boxing tournament in Southern California where fighters from various white nationalist groups across the country gathered to fight. While Rundo didn’t attend, he did celebrate the tournament, deeming it “a dream of mine for many years” and helping to create a 30-minute propaganda video around the event.
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