A federal grand jury indicted four members of a white supremacist group today in connection with their participation in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year.
The indictments follow the Oct. 2 arrests of Benjamin Drake Daley, Thomas Walter Gillen, Michael Paul Miselis and Cole Evan White, all of California, and the announcement Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia’s of the charges they face.
Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal Riots Act and one count of traveling in interstate commerce from California to Virginia with the intent to incite a riot, organize, promote, encourage, participate in, and carry on in a riot, to commit an act of violence in furtherance of a riot, or aid or abet any person inciting and participating in or carrying on in a riot, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorneys office.
The Unite the Right rally organized in Charlottesville, Virginia Aug. 12, 2017, was a white supremacist demonstration protesting the removal of a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park (formerly known as Lee Park). Both protesters and counter-protesters were present, hours before the scheduled rally, with reports of incidents of violence and both sides spraying each other with pepper spray.
Seeing the situation as a powder keg about to ignite, the police declared the rally an unlawful assembly prior to its commencement in hope that the crowd would disperse and that opposing sides would go their separate ways; instead violence erupted, resulting in the death of counter-protester Heather Hayer when an assailant drove his car into the crowd.
Though not connected to the death of Hayer, the defendants may also face additional charges linked to attacks against an African-American man, two women, and a minister at the event.
The indicted are part of a larger white supremacist group out of Southern California known as the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a group that is no stranger to violence. According to ProPublica, RAM touts their single purpose is ‘physically attacking its ideological foes.’
RAM was also present at rallies in San Bernardino, Berkeley and a pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California last year, where violence also ensued. The four may face additional charges in connection with their alleged involvement in violence at those events.
Please be advised that the video below contains graphic violence and language, and may be disturbing to some viewers.