UPDATE, OCT. 29, 11:10 A.M.: Aaron Eason, an alleged member of the Rise Above Movement, surrendered to the FBI over the weekend. The 38-year-old Riverside County resident remained at large following inciting to riot charges brought against him and three other members of the neo-Nazi gang.
According to an affidavit that accompanied a criminal complaint, Eason recruited Michael Miselis and invited him to a RAM training session in San Clemente following the group’s debut at a pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach that turned violent last year. Miselis was arrested and charged earlier this month, in part, for political violence during the “Unite the Right” hate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Eason also rented a van for members to travel to Berkeley last April where RAM members brawled in the streets with protesters during a rally.
After turning himself in, Eason is expected in federal court today.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 24: The FBI dealt another severe blow to the Rise Above Movement, a neo-Nazi gang that publicly debuted in Huntington Beach last year during a pro-Trump rally where Weekly reporters got assaulted. Four members, including Huntington Beach resident and group leader Robert Rundo, are now facing criminal charges for violating federal rioting laws. The latest arrests follow similar indictments earlier this month against three RAM members and an associate for inciting violence at the infamous “Unite the Right” hate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On Oct. 2, a judge issued search warrants for several RAM members including Rundo. According to the New York Times, Rundo fled the country two weeks ago crossing the Mexico border on his way to Central America before being brought back to the United States on Monday by authorities. Robert Bowman and Tyler Laube are the other two RAM members arrested this week. Aaron Eason remains at large. The Weekly identified Laube as one man who assaulted reporter Frank John Tristan during the Mar. 25, 2017 pro-Trump rally at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
The affidavit authored by FBI agent Scott J. Bierwirth that accompanies the criminal complaint unsealed yesterday offers revealing insights into the inner workings of RAM and its organized mayhem in Huntington Beach and elsewhere. Bierwirth, assigned to the FBI’s counter-terrorism squad, refers to a recorded conference call in December 2016 where RAM member Ben Daley outlined a plan to provide “security” at political rallies in 2017.
“Daley and the RAM group, who had no official role in the rallies they planned to attend, appeared to be discussing appearing as security personnel at the rallies so they could be prepared to engage in violent confrontations that may erupt,” Bierwirth wrote. “On the call, Daley instructed listeners to wear specific clothing, such as polo-style shirts and khakis, to get military style haircuts, and to maintain an organized presence at the events.”
Known as the DIY Division at the time, RAM members showed up at the Huntington Beach MAGA rally as refashioned fashys with a “Defend America” banner. Towards the end of the march, RAM attacked Tristan and black-clad counter-protesters, violent incidents referred to in the affidavit. “Videos show several rally attendees confronting, pushing and then punching two journalists,” Bierwirth wrote. “As the journalist [Tristan] stumbled backward, Laube grabbed the journalist’s shoulder with his left hand, and punched him three times in the face.”
When the melee continued, Rundo punched a protester in the back of the head. After wrestling him to the ground, he continued pelting the protester with punches earning him the nickname “Based Elbow Man” popularized by the likes of Vincent James Foxx, a RAM associate who runs the The Red Elephants, an alt-right media group, from Lake Forest.
The group welcomed the notoriety. Authorities obtained a boastful text message from Daley, who the FBI arrested this month on Charlottesville-related charges, to a fellow member following the fracas. “Front page of the stormer we did it fam,” Daley wrote. He referred to a story on the notorious neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer that dramatized the scuffles that broke out with the offensive headline, “Trumpenkriegers Physically Remove Antifa Homos in Huntington Beach.”
Adding to the euphoric debut, RAM had little to worry about with regards to prosecution from local law enforcement agencies. California State Parks police stood idly by while members kicked, punched, shoved and threw rocks at protesters and the press. Afterward, Kevin Pearsall, the public safety superintendent for the Orange County District of California State Parks, ignored calls and emails from former Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano regarding two men, including Laube, who punched Tristan without provocation. No investigation followed.
According to inside sources, Pearsall, featured in last year’s Scariest People issue, still gets incensed at the mere mention of the Weekly‘s reporting exposing his lack of response to neo-Nazis and Trump supporters committing acts of violence on the beach. For its part, the Orange County District Attorney’s office, under DA Tony Rackauckas, didn’t file any charges against RAM members despite the wealth of video evidence from the melees.
With that, RAM carried on emboldened by the “success” of their Huntington Beach debut. Four days later, Eason messaged Michael Miselis, a UCLA doctoral student who met the hate group’s members at the pro-Trump rally and would later lose his job with defense contractor Northrop Grumman following a ProPublica article documenting his violent behavior in Charlottesville. “Training is a go,” Eason wrote. “Saturday at 11 a.m. Marblehead Park, San Clemente.” The group organized a van carpool and headed up to Berkeley in April for more street battles with antifa during protests. Rundo punched a Berkeley policeman twice and got arrested for assaulting the officer but the Alameda County district attorney’s office declined to press charges.
The hate group carried on with more political violence at an anti-Sharia Law protest in San Bernardino and the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. They spray painted white supremacist graffiti inside the Agua Chinon Wash Tunnel in Irvine and promoted their antics on social media platforms. Rundo, Miselis and Daley traveled to Europe this Spring to celebrate Adolph Hitler’s birthday and network with white supremacy groups in Germany, Italy and Ukraine. When they came back, Rundo started The Right Brand, a RAM-affiliated clothing company the Weekly reported was based out of Huntington Beach and sold pro-fascist apparel as well as imported European hate group brands.
After the feds arrested three RAM members and an associate for political violence in Charlottesville, The Right Brand raised money for their legal defense with “Free the Cville 4” stickers. But before the violent white supremacists could become a cause célèbre, the alphabet boys returned with handcuffs ready for four more members of the neo-Nazi gang.
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!