Following a nationwide reign of terror, a gang of street-fighting white supremacists was finally brought to justice this week in Los Angeles.
Rise Above Movement (RAM) leader Robert Rundo and two of his enforcers were arrested on charges of inciting violence at California protests and at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, last year, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Rundo was picked up by authorities on Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport after returning to the U.S. from Central America, U.S. Attorney’s office spokesman Thom Mrozek said. Two of Rundo’s henchmen, Robert Boman and Tyler Laube, were arrested just three days later, while a fourth suspect — Aaron Eason — remains at large.
A New York Times report detailing Mr. Rundo’s arrest said that the 28-year-old attempted to flee to Mexico before authorities caught up with him, and he was “brought back” to the U.S. to stand trial. Rundo is specifically being charged with attacking counter-protesters and journalists at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach, CA, in March.
Court documents accuse the RAM leader of assaulting two protesters at this rally. Laube is also accused of striking a journalist at the same event.
Each white supremacist is charged with traveling to incite or participate in riots across the country, and all three were denied bail in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The official criminal complaint explains how Rundo, Boman, and Laube traveled to racially-divisive demonstrations and acted with the “intent to incite, organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on riots.”
“RAM members violently attacked and assaulted counter-protesters” at events in Charlottesville and in several California cities, an FBI affidavit noted.
“Alt-right fight club”
The Rise Above Movement is a violent, white supremacist militia made up of about 20 southern California members. The group calls itself the “premier MMA [mixed martial arts] club of the Alt-Right,” and affiliates are known to train in close combat, ground fighting techniques.
The FBI has cataloged much of the small group’s violence with photographic and video evidence showing members participating in violent brawls with counter-protesters in places like Huntington Beach and Berkeley.
“They were essentially serial rioters,” said Thomas Cullen, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia. “This wasn’t in our view the lawful exercise of [First] Amendment rights. These guys came to Charlottesville to commit violent acts.”
Earlier this month, five other RAM members were charged with inciting riots and participating in the violence in Charlottesville, VA, last year, where counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed in a car-ramming attack by an unaffiliated white extremist. One suspect was photographed head-butting a woman and a member of the local clergy, and they each face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
“Rise Above Movement is essentially a white supremacist organization that operates like an alt-right fight club,” Joanna Mendelson, from the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said. “They romanticize themselves as these foot soldiers to fend off against the elements that threaten their white existence.”
Ideologically, adherents believe they are fighting against a “modern world” infected by the “destructive cultural influences” of liberals, Jews, Muslims, and non-white immigrants.
Earlier this year, Rundo traveled to Europe with two other white extremists charged with committing violence in Charlottesville. The three were on the continent to celebrate the birthday of their idol, Adolf Hitler.