LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The leader of a California-based white nationalist group and three others have been charged with attacking demonstrators and conspiring to incite riots at political rallies across the state, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday,
Robert Rundo, 28-year-old founder of the Rise Above Movement, was taken into custody on Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport.
Two other members of the group, Robert Boman, 25, and Tyler Laube, 22, were arrested on Wednesday morning, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. Aaron Eason, 38, remains at large.
“The allegations describe an orchestrated effort to squelch free speech as members of the conspiracy travelled to multiple locations to attack those who hold different views,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement.
Rundo, Boman, and Laube are accused of attacking counter-protesters and two journalists at a March 25, 2017 “Make America Great Again” rally in Rundo’s hometown of Huntington Beach, California.
Rundo, Boman and Eason are also charged with violence at a demonstration in Berkeley on April 15, 2017 and an “Anti-Islamic Law” protest in San Bernardino.
They are also charged with using the internet with the intent to “organise promote, encourage, participate or carry on riots.”
Rundo was ordered detained pending trial at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles earlier this week, Mrozek said. Boman, of Torrance, and Laube, of Redondo Beach, were still awaiting court appearances.
Earlier this month, four other California men described by prosecutors as members of the Rise Above Movement — Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Miselis, Thomas Walter Gillen and Cole Evan White — were indicted on federal riot and conspiracy charges stemming from violence they were accused of instigating during last year’s Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neo-Nazi sympathizers and counterprotesters clashed at that event and President Donald Trump was criticized at the time for appearing to equate the actions of the white nationalists, who carried Nazi flags, with those of counterprotesters.
On Wednesday, Trump denounced the suspected bombs mailed to former U.S. President Barack Obama, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other high-profile Democrats.
“And I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify, we have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America,” he said at a White House event.
Earlier this year, Rundo and two of the men charged in the Charlottesville case travelled to Europe to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday and to meet with members of other white supremacy extremist groups, according to prosecutors.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Bill Tarrant and Tom Brown