A member of racist and antisemitic Rise Above Movement (RAM) spent time in Europe meeting with white supremacists there before returning to the United States and taking part in the violent melee at the “Unite the Right” rally.
Michael Paul Miselis, a 29-year-old Lawndale, California, resident, went to Italy and Germany to meet with groups there, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jean Rosenbluth concluded.
Rosenbluth, a Los Angeles-based judge, ordered Miselis and 34-year-old Walter Gillen of Redondo Beach, California, held without bail on charges of traveling across the country to riot and conspiracy to riot.
Two other members of RAM, 25-year-old Benjamin Drake Daley of Redondo Beach, and 24-year-old Cole Evan White of Clayton, California, have also been arrested.
All four were indicted Thursday in Charlottesville, Virginia, and detained pending a yet-unscheduled court hearing there. None of the men had attorneys listed for them.
All four are charged with traveling from California to Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 11-12, 2017, to take part in the “Unite the Right” rally and become violent. U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen, whose district covers Charlottesville, referred to the men as “serial rioters.”
RAM, which refers to itself as the “premier MMA (mixed martial arts) club of the Alt-Right,” has been making entreaties to Europe in recent months.
Based in Southern California, RAM boasts over 50 members and fashions itself as a fight club. Its members train in various combat sports such as MMA and boxing, which they later apply during street fights and protests.
They conceal their identities using skull masks and goggles, wrapping their hands with tape in preparation for physical altercations. They then glorify their antics in propaganda videos posted on social media. RAM also appear to have their own gym, though the location remains a secret.
Who Miselis met with while in Europe and how long he was there remain unclear. Court records don’t give an indication of either.
But Daley, the owner of a tree-trimming business in California, has been identified by ProPublica as a RAM leader who recently made an excursion to those same countries and met with far-right extremists while there.
Daley was scheduled to appear in court in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon for a detention hearing. Prosecutors filed a motion calling Daley a flight risk and asking that he be held without bail. The outcome of that hearing was not immediately available.
Along with their associations, prosecutors and Rosenbluth expressed concerns about the backgrounds of Miselis and Gillen.
Miselis had ammunition, skull masks and smoke bombs when arrested, and Gillen had four guns at his home.
Rosenbluth had other concerns about Gillen, citing his prior convictions for obstruction of justice and possession of a firearm without an identifying mark.
Gillen was also caught on video with taped fists, punching someone who had fallen to the ground, Rosenbluth wrote.
Rosenbluth also concluded that both Miselis and Gillen having access to the internet would be dangerous. The judge said it would be hard to monitor their online activity and that the web was used to help coordinate and organize their trip to Charlottesville for “Unite the Right.”
Brian McGinn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Charlottesville, said none of the men are yet scheduled to appear in federal court in Virginia.
Photo credit Edu Bayer