4 Members of Violent White Supremacist Group Face Riot Charges, Federal Authorities Say

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A still from "Documenting Hate: Charlottesville" that pictures Robert Rundo on the right.

A still from "Documenting Hate: Charlottesville" that pictures Robert Rundo on the right.

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October 24, 2018

Federal authorities announced riot charges against four members of the Rise Above Movement, a violent white supremacist group based in California. The charges relate to assaults carried out at protest rallies in California and Charlottesville, Virginia.

The charges against four men — Robert Rundo, Robert Boman, Tyler Laube and Aaron Eason — come weeks after four other Rise Above Movement members or associates were indicted on riot charges in Virginia, accused of engaging in violent assaults during the infamous “Unite the Right” rally in the summer of 2017. Only Rundo, Boman and Laube had been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon.

The four men indicted in Virginia have not entered pleas in the case.

FRONTLINE and ProPublica have been reporting on the Rise Above Movement since late 2017, and the U.S. attorney in Virginia noted that work.

The government’s accusations, made public on Wednesday against the four men, are laid out in a criminal complaint signed by an FBI agent who specializes in domestic terrorist groups.

“Through my training and experience,” the agent wrote, “I am familiar with terrorist organizations’ methods of operations, including their use of social media to communicate regarding coordination of strategic ideological goals, recruit and radicalize individuals, and coordinate violent extremist activities.”

The complaint then asserts that the four men, as part of the Rise Above Movement, planned and carried out attacks in three California cities as well as Charlottesville in 2017.

“The defendants used the Internet to coordinate combat training in preparation for the events,” the complaint states, “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.”

Rundo, one of the men arrested this week, had been identified by FRONTLINE and ProPublica as the founder of the group. He is a native of New York City who had deepened his white supremacist leanings during a stint in state prison in New York.

The complaint asserts that investigators used the men’s social media and private communications, as well as videos and other material created by the group itself, to document specific acts of violence in Huntington Beach, San Bernardino and Berkeley, all in California, as well as Charlottesville.

In Huntington Beach, for instance, Laube is accused of assaulting a journalist at the rally; Rundo and Boman are also identified as having punched, kicked or otherwise set upon people at the rally on March 25, 2017.

It was not clear on Wednesday if the four men charged most recently had retained lawyers, and they could not quickly be reached for comment.


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This story is part of an ongoing collaboration between ProPublica and FRONTLINE that includes documentaries beginning with Documenting Hate: Charlottesville, which aired on PBS in August 2018, and the upcoming film Documenting Hate: New American Nazis, which will air Tuesday, Nov. 20

If you’ve witnessed or experienced hate crimes, harassment or incidents of bias, you can use this form to send information to FRONTLINE, ProPublica and other partners in the Documenting Hate project.


A.C. Thompson

A.C. Thompson, Investigative Reporter, Producer & Film Correspondent, ProPublica

Twitter:

@acinvestigates

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