Members of the now-defunct white supremacist group Rise Above Movement were sentenced in Charlottesville, Va.
Three members of a white supremacist group that prosecutors said engaged in violence at political rallies in Huntington Beach and elsewhere have been sentenced to prison for their roles in provoking violence at a deadly far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
Benjamin Daley, a founder of the now-defunct Rise Above Movement, was sentenced Friday to 37 months in prison. Thomas Gillen, a Redondo Beach resident, was sentenced to 33 months, and Michael Miselis, a member who worked as an aerospace engineer for Northrop Grumman, was sentenced to 27 months. A fourth defendant, Cole White, will be sentenced later.
All four previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to riot.
“They were not interested in peaceful protest or lawful First Amendment expression; instead, they intended to provoke and engage in street battles with those that they perceived as their enemies,” Thomas Cullen, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, said in a statement.
Daley, Miselis and several others had traveled from California on behalf of the relatively small militant white power group that cast itself as an alt-right fight club, according to court records. Its members would meet regularly in public parks to practice boxing and other street-fighting techniques to unleash on political foes, court records said.
Federal authorities said the group was founded in late 2016 or early 2017 by Daley and Robert Rundo of Huntington Beach, originally branded as “DIY Division.” The group grew in numbers through the use of social media, on which they coordinated combat training before political events and bragged about the violence to recruit members.
In March 2017, RAM members engaged in violence at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach, according to authorities. A protester opposing Trump allegedly doused a female organizer of the event with pepper spray, sparking a brawl that led to several arrests.
After group members arrived in Charlottesville in August 2017, they taped their fists and made their way through a group of people protesting against discrimination. Together, prosecutors said, the white supremacists pushed, punched, kicked and head-butted several people, resulting in a riot.
Mejia writes for the Los Angeles Times. Daily Pilot staff contributed to this report.