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4 members of white supremacists group arrested for role in 2017 torch-lit march and rally

Posted at 12:10 PM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 18:07:59-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- More than one year after a white nationalist torch-lit march and rally in Charlottesville, multiple arrests have been made in connection to the event, according to federal prosecutors. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and FBI Assistant Special Agent Thomas M. Chadwick announced the arrests and charges Tuesday afternoon during a press conference.

Four members of a white supremacist group were arrested after federal prosecutors said they traveled from California to Charlottesville to incite a riot and commit violent acts.

A criminal complaint filed in US District Court for the Western District of Virginia identified the men as Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Miselis, Thomas Walter Gillen and Cole Evan White.

Prosecutors said the men are a part of the "Rise Above Movement," a militant white supremacist organization based in Southern California.

The men are accused of committing “multiple acts of violence” against counterprotesters, according to Cullen. Those acts of violence includes punching, kicking, headbutting, and pushing. They are accused of assaulting a black male, two women, and a minister wearing a clerical collar.

“Their actions were not only reprehensible, but also in violation of federal law,” said Chadwick.

The four suspects will be been charged under the riots acts, which, if convicted, has a penalty of 10 years in prison.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12: White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After clashes with anti-fascist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering and people were forced out of Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On August 11, 2017, more than 100 white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia grounds, carrying torches and chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “White lives matter.” They were protesting a Charlottesville City Council plan to remove a Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue from a nearby park.

Things turned violent after physical fights between marches and protesters erupted. The torch rally was eventually shut down after police ruled the march was an unlawful assembly.

The next day, the violence continued and turned deadly during the “Unite the Right” rally. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed while protesting after a man drove his car into a crowd, according to police.

Two Virginia state troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash nearby after monitoring events during the rally. Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates and pilot Lt. Jay Cullen were on their way to provide over-watch for the motorcade of then-Governor Terry McAuliffe.