California white supremacists arrested on riot charges

In this file photo taken on August 12, 2017 white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clash with counter-protesters as they enter Emancipation Park during the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. (AFP / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / CHIP SOMODEVILLA)
Updated 25 October 2018

California white supremacists arrested on riot charges

  • Rise Above Movement leader Robert Rundo was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport after returning from abroad
  • Prosecutors have described the movement as a militant white supremacist group that espouses anti-Semitic and other racist views

LOS ANGELES: The leader of a Southern California white supremacist group and two other members were arrested on charges of inciting violence at California protests and at a deadly riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The arrests come weeks after other group members were indicted in Virginia on similar charges.
Rise Above Movement leader Robert Rundo was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport after returning to the US from Central America, US Attorney’s office spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
Two others, Robert Boman and Tyler Laube, were arrested Wednesday morning, and Aaron Eason remains at large, Mrozek said. All four are charged with traveling to incite or participate in riots. Rundo, Boman and Laube were each denied bail in Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday.
Attorney information for the defendants could not immediately be found.
The men allegedly took actions with the “intent to incite, organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on riots,” according to a complaint from the US Attorney’s office.
“RAM members violently attacked and assaulted counter-protesters” at events in Charlottesville and in the California cities of Huntington Beach, Berkeley and San Bernardino, an FBI affidavit accompanying the complaint said.
Prosecutors have described the Rise Above Movement as a militant white supremacist group that espouses anti-Semitic and other racist views and meets regularly to train in boxing and other fighting techniques.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Rise Above Movement members believe they are fighting against a “modern world” corrupted by the “destructive cultural influences” of liberals, Jews, Muslims and non-white immigrants. Members refer to themselves as the mixed martial arts club of the “alt-right” fringe movement, a loose mix of neo-Nazis, white nationalists and other far-right extremists.
“They very much operate like a street-fighting club,” Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said earlier this month. The group has roots in the racist skinhead movement in Southern California, Segal said.
The latest arrests come just weeks after the indictments of four other California members of RAM for allegedly inciting the Virginia riot.
In August 2017, they made their way to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville with their hands taped, “ready to do street battle,” US Attorney Thomas Cullen said at a news conference announcing the charges earlier this month.
Hundreds of white nationalists descended on Charlottesville in part to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Clashes erupted Aug. 11 as a crowd of white nationalists marching through the University of Virginia campus carrying torches and chanting racist slogans encountered a small group of counter-protesters.
The next day, more violence broke out between counter-protesters and attendees of the “Unite the Right” rally, which was believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in at least a decade. Street fighting exploded before the scheduled event could begin and went on for nearly an hour in view of police until authorities forced the crowd to disperse.
After authorities forced the rally to disband Aug. 12, Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters.
The death toll rose to three when a state police helicopter that had been monitoring the event crashed, killing two troopers.


Sanders blasts Russia for reportedly trying to boost his presidential campaign

Updated 22 February 2020

Sanders blasts Russia for reportedly trying to boost his presidential campaign

  • “They are trying to cause chaos. They’re trying to cause hatred in America,” the Democratic presidential wannabe said
  • US intelligence officials have said the Russian effort also continues to support Republican President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Friday warned Russia to stay out of US elections after American officials had told him Moscow was trying to aid his campaign.
“The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign, right now, in 2020. And what I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not going to be interfering in American elections,” Sanders told reporters in Bakersfield, California.
Sanders, 78, a democratic socialist from Vermont, is considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and is favored to win the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.
The Washington Post on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter, said US officials had told Sanders about the Russian effort and had also informed Republican President Donald Trump and US lawmakers.
It was not clear what form the Russian assistance took, the paper said.
A congressional source confirmed intelligence officials have told lawmakers Russia appears to be engaging in disinformation and propaganda campaigns to boost the 2020 campaigns of both Sanders and Trump.
The source, however, cautioned that the findings are very tentative.
Sanders, a US senator, said he was briefed about a month ago.
“We were told that Russia, maybe other countries, are going to get involved in this campaign,” he told reporters. “Look, here is the message: To Russia, stay out of American elections.”
“What they are doing, by the way, the ugly thing that they are doing — and I’ve seen some of their tweets and stuff — is they try to divide us up,” he said. “They are trying to cause chaos. They’re trying to cause hatred in America.”

Moscow denies
The Kremlin on Friday denied Russia was interfering in the US presidential campaign to boost Trump’s re-election chances, following reports that American intelligence officials warned Congress about the election threat last week.
US intelligence officials told members of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in a classified briefing that Russia was again interfering in American politics ahead of November’s election, as it did in 2016, a person familiar with the discussion told Reuters on Thursday.
Since that briefing, Trump has ousted the acting intelligence chief, replacing him with a political loyalist in an abrupt move as Democrats and former US officials raised the alarm over national security concerns.
A senior administration official, however, said the nation was better positioned than in 2016 to defend against foreign attempts to influence elections.
“President Trump has made clear that any efforts or attempts by Russia, or any other nation, to influence or interfere with our elections, or undermine US democracy will not be tolerated,” the official said.
On Twitter, the president accused Democrats in Congress of launching a misinformation campaign that says Russia prefers him to any of what he called the “Do Nothing Democrat candidates.” Trump called it a “hoax.”

Russian accounts
Facebook said it has not seen any evidence of Russian assistance to Sanders’ campaign. In October, the company took down Russian-backed accounts that pretended to be from political battleground states.
Some of those accounts used Instagram to praise Sanders. Another used the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and faulted Joe Biden on race issues.
Jessica Brandt of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization that monitors foreign interference in US politics, said Russian state media and official social media accounts have been working to help Sanders by amplifying conspiracy theories that his Democratic rivals, the Democratic National Committee and the “corporate media” have been “rigging the system” against him.
“We can say with certainty that this is what the Russian government is pushing,” she told Reuters. “We’ve seen for some time Russian official channels promoting division within the Democratic Party.”

Warning signs
US officials have long warned that Russia and other countries would seek to interfere in the Nov. 3 presidential election, following Russia’s meddling in the 2016 campaign that ended with Trump’s surprise victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
US intelligence agencies concluded that the Kremlin used disinformation operations, cyberattacks and other methods in its 2016 operation in an effort to boost Trump, an allegation that Russia denies. Trump, sensitive to doubts over the legitimacy of his win, has also questioned that finding and repeatedly criticized American intelligence agencies.
On Friday, the Kremlin said the latest allegations were false.
“These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the (US) election,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “They have nothing to do with the truth.”
Russia’s alleged interference sparked a two-year-long US investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller found no conclusive evidence of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. He also pointed at 10 instances in which Trump may have attempted to obstruct his investigation, as Democrats alleged, but left any finding of obstruction to Congress.