Jury Indicts 3 SoCal Men Described as ‘Among the Most Violent’ During 2017 White Supremacist Rally in Virginia
Three Southern California men accused of inciting a riot during the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia have been formally charged, authorities announced Wednesday.
A federal grand jury indicted Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale, Redondo Beach residents Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, and Thomas Walter Gillen, 24, along with Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, with conspiring to violate the federal riots statue, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen of the Western District of Virginia.
The four were “among the most violent individuals” during the demonstrations on Aug. 11 and 12, with footage showing them attacking and seriously injuring counterprotesters, according to an affidavit from the FBI.
In the early hours of Oct. 2, officials arrested Miselis, Daley and Gillen in Southern California and White in San Francisco.
Wednesday’s indictment also charged each man with one count of traveling from California to Charlottesville with the intent to promote and participate in violent acts.
Their involvement with an organization called “Rise Above Movement” started as early as March 2017, authorities alleged.
The Anti-Defamation League describes R.A.M. as a white nationalist group mostly based in Orange County that “operates like a street-fighting club.”
Members often posted images and recordings of themselves expressing “anti-Semitic, racist, and white supremacist views and promoted violence against those who they believed held opposing political views,” a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Daley, Gillen, Miselis and Cole traveled to several rallies in California and Virginia, where they allegedly participated or prepared to engage in violent acts. Those demonstrations included a March 25, 2017 event in Huntington Beach and another on April 15, 2017 in Berkeley, according to prosecutors.
The men were accused of flying from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Virginia to take part in a torch-lit rally at the University of Virginia, where they incited a riot and committed violent acts. They allegedly carried out similar behavior at the Unite the Right Rally at Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park the next day, when prosecutors said a 21-year-old Ohio man plowed into a crowd of protesters and killed Heather Heyer.
The suspect in that case, 21-year-old James Fields Jr., faced state murder charges. His trial was scheduled to start on Nov. 6. Two troopers also died after a state police helicopter tracking the commotion crashed.
Daley and Gillen were set to be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia until the case is resolved, authorities said.
The court had ordered Miselis’ release on a secured bond and house arrest but stayed his release pending an appeal to the Virginia court.
White’s detention hearing was scheduled for Friday.
Officials said the defendants were likely to be transferred to the West District of Virginia with in one to two weeks.