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Alleged member of Southland white supremacist group surrenders to FBI in protest attacks

Alleged member of Southland white supremacist group surrenders to FBI in protest attacks
Aaron Eason, a member of the so-called Rise Above Movement, surrendered to federal authorities Sunday. (U.S. attorney's office)

A 38-year-old wanted for his alleged role in a Southern California white supremacist group’s assaults at political rallies across the state surrendered to federal authorities Sunday afternoon.

Aaron Eason, of Anza in Riverside County, turned himself in to the FBI at the Federal Building in Westwood, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. He will be held overnight and is expected to appear in federal court Monday.

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Eason, along with three other members of the so-called Rise Above Movement, were charged on allegations of organizing or participating in riots, including at events in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The group’s leader, Robert Rundo, and two others, Tyler Laube and Robert Boman, were arrested in recent days and charged in the case.

The arrests marked the latest move in an ongoing effort by authorities to break the back of an organization linked to racism-fueled assaults. Earlier this month, federal authorities also arrested Benjamin Daley, one of the group’s founders, and three others for their alleged role in the violence.

According to a 25-page affidavit attached to the complaint unsealed last week, Eason rented a large van to drive to an April 2017 protest in Berkeley, where violence erupted. Videos posted online show Eason and other RAM members next to a “Defend America” sign with hands taped like mixed martial arts fighters and faces partially covered by distinctive skeleton masks, authorities said.

For more than a year, authorities said, the group has traveled across California and to Charlottesville, Va., to seek out those who oppose their white supremacist ideology and fight them. Much of the violence was captured in photos and videos that authorities have used to build their case.

Federal authorities said the group was founded in late 2016 or early 2017 by Rundo and Daley, originally branded as “DIY DIVISION.” The group grew in numbers through use of social media, which members used to coordinate combat training before political events and brag about their use of violence.

“The allegations describe an orchestrated effort to squelch free speech as members of the conspiracy traveled to multiple locations to attack those who hold different views,” U.S. Atty. Nick Hanna said in a statement. “This case demonstrates our commitment to preserve and protect the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.”

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