Federal Charges Filed Against 4 Californians in Connection with Aug. 11th, 12th

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Authorities are bringing federal charges against four men from California in connection with the violent weekend of August 12, 2017.

Officials announced Tuesday, October 2, that members of the Rise Above Movement (R.A.M.) - Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Miselis, Thomas Walter Gillen, and Cole Evan White - are charged with violating the federal riots statute and conspiracy. The four were arrested earlier in the day.

"These are members of an organized, militant white supremacist group," said U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen.

The charges stem from the torch-lit march around the University of Virginia by supporters of the Unite the Right rally on August 11, 2017, as well as the rally itself on the following day.

They are accused of trying to "encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts." Prosecutors say the suspects traveled to Charlottesville and assaulted a black man, two women, and a minister.

"Their actions were not only reprehensible, but they were in violation of federal law," said Assistant Special Agent Tom Chadwick, FBI Richmond Division.

"This wasn't in our view the lawful exercise of First Amendment rights. These guys came to Charlottesville in order to commit violent acts, and it wasn't the first time they've done it," Cullen said.

Cullen announced the arrests and charges during a press conference Tuesday. He was joined by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Their message is clear: even though they may be gone, white supremacists are still being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for their actions in Charlottesville.

"One of the reasons this investigation took as long as it did - 13 months - we had to sift through all of that material. We had to identify folks depicted in those photographs and those videos, understand who they were, who they were associated with and marshal enough evidence where we felt comfortable we could bring this particular charge," Cullen explained.

Prosecutors say they have more video evidence than investigators had following the Boston Marathon bombings.

Each of the two count carries up to five years in prison. Cullen said prosecutors are ready to try this case by the end of the year.

The investigation is ongoing, and authorities have not rule out additional arrests or charges.

"We're going to follow every lead until we're satisfied that we've done all we can do with respect to what happened in Charlottesville," said the U.S. attorney.

10/02/2018 Release from the U.S. Department of Justice:

Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – Four California men, who flew from the west coast for the August 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville to engage in violent behavior, have been arrested on federal criminal complaints and charged with violating the federal riots statute and conspiracy.

United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Thomas Chadwick of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Richmond Division, and Captain Dave Cooper of the Virginia State Police made the announcement.

Early this morning, federal agents in California arrested Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, of Redondo Beach, Calif., Thomas Walter Gillen, 34, of Redondo Beach, Calif., Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale, Calif., and Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, Calif. All four defendants have been charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots statute and one count of violating the federal riots statute.

“This case should serve as another example of the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting the life, liberty, and civil rights of all our citizens,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “Any individual who has or plans to travel to this District with the intent to engage in acts of violence will be prosecuted and held accountable for those actions.”

“The events of August 2017 do not reflect the character and values of Virginia's communities. The impact is still felt by many. Law enforcement's job is to protect people from harm and to ensure violence like we saw during that time never happens again,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division Adam S. Lee. “It is important for communities like Charlottesville to remember who the good guys are - who is sworn to protect them - and support them in their mission. The FBI has worked extensively with Virginia State Police and our local partners to achieve justice for those injured during the rally. Their partnership is how we have arrived at this point in our investigations. I want to thank them and U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen and his team in the Western District for their expertise and professionalism.”

According to the criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit filed with the court today, Daley, Gillen, Miselis, White, and others, are members or associates of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a militant white-supremacist organization based in Southern California. The four defendants traveled to Charlottesville for the August 2017 United the Right Rally with the intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot.

The complaints allege that Daley, Gillen, Miselis, and White committed multiple acts of violence against counter-protestors at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, which in some cases resulted in serious injuries.

In addition, the complaint alleges that Daley, Gillen, Miselis, and White were present and participated in the torch-lit march that culminated in violence against students and counter protestors on the grounds of the University of Virginia on the night of August 11, 2017.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Virginia State Police. United States Attorney Cullen and Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh are prosecuting the case for the United States.

A criminal complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

10/02/2018 Statement from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring:

RICHMOND (October 2, 2018)--Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the following statement on the charges announced today by U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen against four suspected white supremacists for their roles in the violence of August 11 and 12, 2017 in Charlottesville:

“This is an important step towards justice for the Virginians and the greater Charlottesville community who endured the violence of August 11 and 12, and who continue to live with the repercussions. I commend U.S. Attorney Cullen for bringing these cases and will support him and his team in any way possible.

“These arrests are also a stark reminder that the threat of white supremacist violence in the United States is real and growing. We cannot be complacent or pretend it isn’t real or can’t happen here. I will continue to press the Virginia General Assembly for stronger tools to prevent white supremacist violence, and to hold accountable those whose hateful ideology drives them to violence.”

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