LOS ANGELES – Four Southern California men who allegedly are members of a white supremacy extremist group have been named in a federal criminal complaint that charges them of travelling to political rallies across California, where they violently attacked counter-protesters, journalists and a police officer.
Three of the four defendants are now in custody, and authorities are continuing to search for the fourth defendant.
The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that the four defendants are members of the Southern California-based “Rise Above Movement” (RAM) and that they used the internet “with the intent to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on riots.”
The four RAM members allegedly engaged in a series of violent attacks at political rallies in 2017, including events in Huntington Beach, Berkeley and San Bernardino.
The affidavit in support of the complaint alleges that the men used the internet to coordinate “combat training,” attendance and travel prior to the events, and then to “celebrate their acts of violence in order to recruit members for future events.”
The three men taken into custody are:
· Robert Rundo, 28, of Huntington Beach, allegedly a founding member of RAM and the man behind RAM’s Twitter account, who made his first court appearance on Monday, and at a hearing this morning in United States District Court was ordered detained pending trial;
· Robert Boman, 25, of Torrance, who was arrested this morning by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is expected to appear in federal court this afternoon; and
· Tyler Laube, 22, of Redondo Beach, who also was arrested this morning by the FBI and is expected to appear in court this afternoon.
The fourth defendant named in the complaint – Aaron Eason, 38, who resides in the Riverside County community of Anza – is currently being sought by federal authorities.
“Every American has a right to peacefully organize, march and protest in support of their beliefs – but no one has the right to violently assault their political opponents,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “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. This case demonstrates our commitment to preserve and protect the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.”
“The safeguarding of Constitutionally-protected activity is at the heart of the FBI’s mission,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “There is no place in our democracy, however, for lawbreaking by individuals who cross the line from protected free speech to violence in the name of extremist ideology.”
According to the complaint, which charges the four defendants with violating the federal conspiracy and riots statutes:
· At the Huntington Beach “Make America Great Again” rally on March 25, 2017, members of RAM broke off from the main rally and confronted counter-protesters, where Rundo, Boman and Laube attacked a number of people, including two journalists.
· In the weeks following this melee, RAM members celebrated the attacks, which were noted on a neo-Nazi website, and solicited others to attend an upcoming rally in Berkeley, as well as combat training to be held in a park in San Clemente.
· At the Berkeley rally on April 15, 2017, Rundo, Boman and Eason were involved in violent attacks, which resulted in Rundo being arrested after punching a “defenseless person” and a Berkeley Police Officer.
· In the subsequent months, RAM members celebrated the assaults in Berkeley, which included Boman posting photos of himself attacking people and RAM members engaging in combat training.
· On June 10, 2017, Rundo and other RAM members attended an “Anti-Islamic Law” rally in San Bernardino, where they participated in violent attacks.
The case announced today follows the filing of an indictment in federal court in Charlottesville, Virginia that charges four other California RAM members with violating the riots statute during violent altercations at a torch-lit march at the University of Virginia and Unite the Right Rally in August 2017. The affidavit unsealed today in Los Angeles noted the connections between the defendants in both cases.
RAM and its members documented and promoted their white supremacy ideology through postings on various internet platforms and through graffiti, including tags found in Irvine. In a video posted online earlier this year and described in the complaint, Rundo said he was “a big supporter of the fourteen,” which is a reference to the “14 words,” a slogan used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis that reads: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
In the spring of 2018, 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 the complaint.
“Rundo, Boman, Laube, and Eason, along with other RAM members, have used the internet to prepare to incite and participate in violence at various political events, have committed violent assaults while at those events, and have applauded each other for it and publicly documented their assaults in order to recruit more members to engage in further assaults,” the complaint alleges.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
If convicted of the conspiracy and riots charges in the complaint, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Redondo Police Department and the Torrance Police Department provided assistance in relation to this morning’s arrests.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David T. Ryan of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section in the National Security Division of the United States Attorney’s Office.
Release No. 18-173