Four alleged members of a white supremacist street fighting club are facing federal rioting charges for their involvement in the violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, which left one dead and dozens injured.
The criminal complaints were filed in late August and unsealed Tuesday, naming Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, Thomas Walter Gillen, 34, Michael Paul Miselis, 29, and Cole Evan White, 24, as defendants, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Virginia.
All four defendants are accused of participating in the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville over the weekend of August 11, 2017, including a torchlit march and the “Unite the Right” rally.
“The four defendants traveled to Charlottesville for the August 2017 Unite the Right Rally with the intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.
They’ve each been charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots statute and one count of violating the federal riots statute. If convicted, they could be looking at a maximum of five years in prison.
Prosecutors say the men are members of Rise Above Movement (RAM), an organization described as an “alt-right street-fighting club” in a ProPublica report last October. The criminal complaint, first obtained and published by Huffington Post, contains photos of RAM training and propaganda, as well as images of the defendants fighting protesters in Charlottesville. Daley was also photographed in Charlottesville grabbing an unidentified woman by her neck and slamming her to the ground.
According to the charging documents, Daley and Miselis had their fists taped “in the manner of boxers and MMA fighters.” Screenshots of video footage from Charlottesville showed a man, allegedly Miselis, shoving a black man to the ground and beating him.
“RAM and its members openly identify themselves on various social media platforms as 'alt-right' and 'nationalist’,” the complaint states, “and frequently posts videos and photographs of its adherents engaged in vigorous physical training and mixed martial arts (MMA) street-fighting techniques in order to prepare to engage in fighting and violence at political rallies."
Miselis, a former aerospace engineer for Northrop Grumman, a defense contractor, lost his job in July after a joint report between ProPublica and Frontline exposed him as a member of RAM. White, another defendant, had to resign from his job at a Berkeley hot dog restaurant in the days after Charlottesville, after he was identified in photos from the rally.
This is the second time federal prosecutors have brought charges stemming from the Charlottesville events. In June, James Alex Fields, the young neo-Nazi who rammed his car into a crowd of protesters, killing Heather Heyer, was slapped with 29 federal hate crime charges. Fields is also facing state murder charges. That trial is scheduled for November.
Cover image: Neo Nazis, Alt-Right, and White Supremacists encircle counter protestors at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 11, 2017 (Photo by Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images)