White nationalist leaders arrested in Southern California

Robert Rundo, leader of the so-called Rise Above Movement, was one of those arrested

By Nicole Karlis

Senior Writer

Published October 24, 2018 9:15PM (EDT)

White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP/Steve Helber)
White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP/Steve Helber)

More key leaders of the Rise Above Movement, a white nationalist group based in Southern California, have been taken into custody in California and charged with using the internet to organize or participate in riots.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said via the Los Angeles Times that Robert Rundo, who is known to be the leader of Rise Above Movement, was taken into custody at Los Angeles Airport on Sunday. He reportedly attempted to escape by traveling to Mexico a couple weeks ago, then throughout Central America, but was brought back to the United States on Sunday where he was promptly arrested.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the move is part of an ongoing effort to combat violence motivated by racism and white supremacy beliefs.  Prior to this week, members and leaders Benjamin Daley, Thomas Walter Gillen, Michael Paul Miselis, and Cole Evan White — all in their twenties or thirties — were arrested earlier this month after being accused of going to Charlottesville, Virginia, last year to incite a riot and commit violence.

Authorities arrested Tyler Laube and Robert Boman on Wednesday morning. Aaron Eason remains at large, but was also charged.

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles alleges those who were charged this week used social media to organize or participate in riots, specifically through secret messages between group leaders and members. The filing alleges that these messages reveal that the group aimed to keep their violent intent a secret.

For example, in an August 2017 exchange with someone who was interested in joining the group, Daley directed him to "change your [style] up a bit when your with us." Daley added: "Think its time to reimagine the nationalist look and playbook, we have become predictable that needs to change.”

According to the complaint, in January Daley told someone via Facebook Messenger: “I would be mindful of saying anything that could be misconstrued as a call to violence. I know people who literally have had feds show up at there door over posts. [J]ust food for thought. Trust I’m not speaking in terms of morality rather practicality.”

Rundo was denied bail, according to the Los Angeles Times. He "has demonstrated and undergone a significant personal sacrifice over the past three weeks, repeatedly seeking to flee from this ongoing engagement of law enforcement,” Assistant U.S. Atty. David Ryan said.

By Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a senior writer at Salon, specializing in health and science. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

California Far-right Rise Above Movement Robert Rundo White Nationalist White Supremacy