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California white supremacists arrested on riot charges

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2017 file photo, white nationalist demonstrators clash with counter demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va. The leader of a Southern California white supremacist group and three other members have been arrested weeks after indictments of other group members for allegedly inciting the riot last year in Charlottesville, Virginia. U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek says Rise Above Movement leader Robert Rundo was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport and is expected in Los Angeles federal court Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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 U.S. from Central America, U.S. 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 U.S. 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,” U.S. 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.

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