Judge Denies Bail For White Supremacy Extremists: 'Nothing Short Of Horribly Violent'
Updated Sunday, Oct. 28, 5:50 p.m.
A federal judge denied bail Wednesday for three Southern California men charged with conspiracy and rioting in connection to white nationalist violence at rallies in California and Virginia.
The charges come two weeks after other members of the same group -- Rise Above Movement (RAM) -- were also apprehended by federal authorities.
The latest round of arrests began Sunday when Robert Rundo landed at LAX on a flight from Central America. FBI agents were waiting to arrest him.
Rundo, 28, is allegedly a founder and leader of RAM, a group described in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday as a "white supremacy extremist group based in Southern California."
The New York Times reports Rundo fled the country earlier this month, crossing the border to Mexico and then making his way to Central America before being brought back to the United States.
Then on Wednesday, authorities on arrested two other RAM members Robert Boman, 25, and Tyler Laube, 22, in the South Bay. The FBI is still looking for one more member of the group, 38-year-old Aaron Eason of Riverside, according to FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller.
[Update: FBI officials on Sunday said Eason turned himself into authorities. He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Monday.]
Each defendant faces a maximum of 10 years of prison if convicted on the conspiracy and rioting charges, the U.S. District Attorney's office said in a statement.
Judge Maria A. Audero denied bond for both Boman and Laube at a Wednesday afternoon hearing. She citied the nature of the allegations in the complaint and the fact that both defendants have multiple prior criminal convictions.
A judge had previously denied Rundo bail in the morning.
Boman has violated the terms of his probation or parole five times, according to prosecutors, and admits to struggling with methamphetamine use. Laube is currently on felony probation for second degree robbery.
"The nature of the offenses is nothing short of horribly violent," Audero said during Boman's hearing.
Rundo is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 5, Boman and Laube for Nov. 7.
VIOLENCE CAUGHT ON TAPE
According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, the men participated in riots in Berkeley, Huntington Beach and San Bernardino, and conspired with other members of RAM who traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to participate in a "Unite the Right" white nationalist rally.
It was there that counter-protester Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others injured when a car driven by a suspected white nationalist slammed into the crowd. Two police officers monitoring the clashes also died when their helicopter crashed.
The criminal complaint details specific acts of violence allegedly committed by the three defendants. Here's a look at a few:
In public social media channels, Rise Above members distribute images and slogans of "White Unity" and show members posed in skeleton masks and training in mixed martial arts techniques. The Anti Defamation League says on its website that RAM pushes white supremacist ideology and operates "like a street-fighting club."
In the arrest complaint, authorities documented "public online postings" they said underscore the group's philosophy. Authorities said Rundo, Boman and Laube are all identifiable in postings.
This week's arrests came a year after ProPublica, as part of the nonprofit newsroom's Documenting Hate series, asked why RAM members had not been targeted by authorities despite being caught on tape in violent acts.
ProPublica reported RAM members "boasted publicly of their violence during protests in Huntington Beach, San Bernardino and Berkeley. Many of the altercations have been captured on video, and its members are not hard to spot."
REASON FOR ARRESTS
This latest round of arrests comes after an October 2nd crackdown, when four members of Rise Above Movement from Southern California were arrested and charged with intent to incite or commit violent acts to further a riot for their actions during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA last year.
The reason for the latest arrests is contained in a FBI complaint unsealed Wednesday.
The complaint describes RAM's efforts to pose as security personnel at political gatherings. Members were instructed to wear polo shirts and khakis, wear short-cropped hair and appear organized -- all in an effort to be ready to jump into any violent confrontations that might crop up, according to the FBI.
At a "Make America Great Again" gathering in Huntington Beach on March 25th, 2017, for example, Laube is accused of punching a journalist in the face three times. Rundo allegedly punched and assaulted a counter-protester.
The group then allegedly celebrated the attacks on social media and over text messages and made plans for further violence at an upcoming rally in Berkeley.
"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," said United States Attorney Nick Hanna in a statement. "This case demonstrates our commitment to preserve and protect the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution."
Federal officials, in the complaint, painted a picture of a group getting more savvy about their public face. The affadavit filed by Special Agent Scott J. Bierwith describes RAM leader Benjamin Brook Daley, 25, encouraging members to look less like obvious supremacists. Daley is among the RAM members arrested earlier this month.
Here's an exchange documented in Bierwith's affadavit:
Daley: "We go for the implicit look so you'll have to change your [style] up a bit when your with us."The associate: "Yea that's fine [I] can grow my hair out if need be, drop the boots and braces look etc."
Daley responded with an image of an "OK" symbol, and stated, "Trust I did it for a long time too but ultimately the 80s in that style of nationalism proved to be ineffective. . . . [I] think its time to reimagine the nationalist look and playbook, we have become predictable that needs to change."
8:30 p.m: This article was updated with additional information about the timing of the arrests and the location of the alleged violent acts.
5:03 p.m.: Details from alleged violent incidents were added to this story.
4:45 p.m.: This story was updated with details from the afternoon arraignment, as well as additional details from the criminal complaint.
3:41 p.m.: This article was updated with information about Rundo's arraignment and an image of Eason.
This article originally published at 12:30 p.m.
READ THE COMPLAINT
Hey, thanks. You read the entire story. And we love you for that. Here at LAist, our goal is to cover the stories that matter to you, not advertisers. We don't have paywalls, but we do have payments (aka bills). So if you love independent, local journalism, join us. Let's make the world a better place, together. Donate now.