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.


Hong Kong police warn of ‘live fire’ if they face deadly weapons from protesters

Updated 17 November 2019

Hong Kong police warn of ‘live fire’ if they face deadly weapons from protesters

  • Protests have tremored through the global financial hub since June
  • China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate the dissent

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police Monday warned for the first time that they may use “live rounds” after pro-democracy protesters fired arrows and threw petrol bombs at officers at a beseiged university campus, as the crisis engulfing the city veered deeper into danger.
Protests have tremored through the global financial hub since June, with many in the city of 7.5 million people venting fury at eroding freedoms under Chinese rule.
China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate the dissent, and there have been concerns that Beijing could send in troops to put an end to the spiralling unrest.
Three protesters have been shot by armed police in the unrelenting months of protests. But all in scuffles as chaotic street clashes played out — and without such warnings being given.
A day of intense clashes, which saw a police officer struck in the leg by an arrow and protesters meet police tear gas with volleys of petrol bombs, intensified as night fell.
Clashes rolled across Kowloon, with the epicenter around the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), where scores of defiant demonstrators set large fires to prevent police from conducting a threatened raid on the campus.
They hunkered down under umbrellas from occasional fire from water cannon and hurled molotov cocktails at an armored police vehicle, leaving it ablaze on a flyover near the campus.
Police declared the campus a “riot” scene — a rioting conviction carries up to 10 years in jail — and blocked exits as spokesman Louis Lau issued a stark warning in a Facebook live broadcast.
“I hereby warn rioters not to use petrol bombs, arrows, cars or any deadly weapons to attack police officers,” he said.
“If they continue such dangerous actions, we would have no choice but to use the minimum force necessary, including live rounds, to fire back.”
Police said they fired at a car late Sunday that had driven at a line of officers near the campus — but the vehicle reversed and escaped.
Protesters at the campus appeared resolute — a twist in tactics by a leaderless movement so far defined by its fluid, unpredictable nature.
“I feel scared. There’s no way out, all I can do is fight to the end,” said one protester joining the barricade in front of the university building.
“We need a base to keep our gear and have some rest at night before another fight in the morning,” another called Kason, 23, told AFP.
On Sunday, activists parried attempts by police to break through into the PolyU campus, firing rocks from a homemade catapult from the university roof, while an AFP reporter saw a team of masked archers — several carrying sports bows — patrolling the campus.
Violence has worsened in recent days, with two men killed in separate incidents linked to the protests this month.
Chinese President Xi Jinping this week issued his most strident comments on the crisis, saying it threatened the “one country, two systems” model under which Hong Kong has been ruled since the 1997 handover from Britain.
Demonstrators last week engineered a “Blossom Everywhere” campaign of blockades and vandalism, which forced the police to draft in prison officers as reinforcements, shut down large chunks of Hong Kong’s train network and close schools and shopping malls.
The movement, characterised by its fluidity and unpredictability, has started to coagulate in fixed locations, showing the protesters’ ability to switch tactics.
The protests started against a now-shelved bill to allow extradition to China but have billowed to encompass wider issues such as perceived police brutality and calls for universal suffrage in the former British colony.
The financial hub has been nudged into a recession by the unrelenting turmoil.
A poster circulating on social media called for the “dawn action” to continue on Monday.
“Get up early, directly target the regime, squeeze the economy to increase pressure,” it said.
The education bureau said schools will remain closed again on Monday.
Earlier on Sunday, dozens of government supporters gathered to clear barricades near the university campus — a sign of the divisions slicing through the city.
Many residents are wearied by the sapping protests. Others support the Chinese-backed city government.
Some applauded a Saturday clean-up by Chinese troops from a garrison of the People’s Liberation Army in Kowloon.
The garrison is usually confined to the barracks under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, although it can be deployed at the request of the city’s government to help with public order breakdown or natural disasters.
Hong Kong’s government, which presides over a city that enjoys greater freedoms than the mainland, said it did not ask the PLA for help on Saturday.
The choreographed troop movement “has only compounded the impression that Beijing has simply ignored” Hong Kong’s unique political system, said analyst Dixon Sing.