Federal prosecutors accuse four California men in rioting at 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville in 2017

Federal investigators contend the four men arrested belong to a "Rise Above Movement" based in Southern California that prosecutors described as a "militant white supremacist organization" in court filings unsealed Tuesday.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
CHARLOTTESVILLE DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Case No.

V.

~ :

rlj 00 0 dl.\ ..- 060 01t

Filed Under Seal

BENJAMIN DRAKE DALEY,
MICHAEL PAUL MISELIS ,
THOMAS WALTER GILLEN, and
COLE EVAN WHITE

AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF ARREST WARRANT AND CRIMINAL COMPLAINT

I, Dino P. Cappuzzo, being first duly sworn, hereby depose and state as follows :
INTRODUCTION AND AGENT BACKGROUND

1.

I am a Task Force Officer of the United States Department of Justice, Federal

Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") and have been so employed since September 2016. I am
assigned to the Richmond Field Office, Charlottesville Resident Agency, located in
Charlottesville, Virginia. My principal duties include the investigation of, among other matters,
domestic and international terrorism and threats to the National Security of the United States.
2.

I am a sworn law enforcement officer with the Virginia Department of State

Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and have been so employed for 22 years . Additionally,
I am a Task Force Officer, deputized as a Deputy United States Marshal as a member of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation ' s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Charlottesville, VA.

I am

charged with the duty of investigating violations of the laws of the United States as stated in

Case 3:18-mj-00024-JCH Document 3-1 Filed 08/27/18 Page 1 of 23 Pageid#: 5

Title 28, Federal Code of Regulations, and to seek and execute arrest and search warrants
supporting a Federal Task Force under Title 18 Authority.
3.

Your Affiant bases this affidavit upon personal knowledge and observations made

during the course of this investigation, and upon my personal review of records, documents, and
items lawfully obtained by third parties, public records, and interviews. Where the contents of
documents and the actions, statements and conversations of others .are reported A*herein, they are
reported in substance and in part. The Affiant is familiar with the infonnation contained in this
affidavit based upon the investigation I have conducted to date and based on my conversations
with other law enforcement officers who have been involved in this investigation, some of whom
have also been engaged in numerous investigations involving domestic terrorism. Because this
affidavit is being submitted for the limited purpose of establishing probable cause for the
Issuance of an arrest warrant, I have not included each and every fact I know about the
investigation.

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4.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 2101, provides that "Whoever travels in

interstate or foreign commerce or uses any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including,
but not limited to, the mail, telegraph, telephone, radio, or television, with intent 1) to incite a
riot; or 2) to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot; or 3) to commit any
act of violence in furtherance of a riot; or 4) to aid or abet any person in inciting or participating
in or carrying on a riot or committing any act of violence in furtherance of a riot" shall be guilty
of a federal offense.
5.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 , provides that "If two or more persons

conspire [] to commit any offense against the United States .. .. and one or more of such persons
do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be [guilty of a federal offense].

BACKGROUND
6.

On August 12, 2017, a "Unite the Right" rally (UTR) was scheduled to be held at

Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia. The proclaimed purpose of the rally was to
protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson statues in
Charlottesville. Several groups and individuals espousing right-wing nationalist and/or white
supremacist views traveled to Charlottesville to attend the rally in support.
7.

On the evening of August 11 , 2017, the night before the UTR rally of August 12,

many of these groups and individuals participated in an unsanctioned torch-lit march occurred on
the grounds of the University of Virginia, which is located in Charlottesville and in the Western
District of Virginia. Hundreds of participants marched through a portion of the University of
Virginia's grounds, carrying torches and shouting, for example, "Jews will not replace us!"
"Blood and Soil! " and "White Lives Matter! " The torch-lit march culminated at a statue of
Thomas Jefferson located at the base of the University of Virginia' s Rotunda, where the march
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participants surrounded a small group of students and community members who had joined
around the statue in counter-protest. Several students held a banner that read: "VA Students Act
Against White Supremacy."

After surrounding the smaller group of students and counter-

protestors, the participants of the torch-lit march pressed in closer towards them. Moments later,
violence erupted among the hundreds of people present.
The next day, on August 12, 2017, the UTR rally was scheduled to begin at noon.

8.

That morning, individuals and groups espousing white supremacist and white nationalist beliefs
funneled into Emancipation Park. Numerous counter-protestors attended the rally to oppose the
rally and its supporters.

Throughout the morning, numerous violent encounters occurred

between white-supremacist protestors and counter-protestors.

Before the UTR rally could

officially begin, law enforcement declared an unlawful assembly and cleared Emancipation Park.
9.

Upon information and belief, among the most violent individuals present in

Charlottesville on August 11-12, 2017 were at least four members and associates of the "Rise
Above Movement," (RAM) a militant white-supremacist organization based in Southern
California, who had traveled to Charlottesville with the intent to encourage, promote, incite,
participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot, as that term is defined by 18
U. S.C. ASS 2102.
PROBABLE CAUSE
10.

Through open-source research by the FBI, it was learned that RAM maintained a

publicly viewable Twitter page. RAM represents itself to be a positive influence on those who

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join their ranks, as evidenced in the following statement posted to their publicly viewable Twitter

~~

IDSE AOOVE

~OVEMENT"'

W

~ l -Who we areR.A.M is a new organization dedicated to
the promotion of an active lifestvle and common
values among young people for our future. This
ls achieved through training, creative thinking,
and activism. Today, under the pressure
of consumer propaganda and values we have
lost our pioneering spirit, the spirit of a
fighter, our warrior spirit! The main task
of Rise Above Movement is to revive this spirit
Modern society fosters weak men, addicts, and
apathv. We want to rise above all of todav's
destructive culture and see the rebirth of our
people, strong in mental and physical capacities
as our forefathers were. In a time when you can
be harmed for your political beliefs or shamed
for your heritage, we are here to defend our
ldentttv and shared goats.

page:
11 .

Through Twitter and other social-media platforms, RAM promotes "clean living,"

physical fitness and mixed martial arts (MMA) street fighting techniques.

According to an

article published to www.nocara.blacklogs.org on 7/06/2017, entitled "DIY Division:

The

Violent neo-Nazi Group Central to the California Alt-Right and Alt-Light Protest Movements,"
DIY, which later re-branded itself as RAM, subscribes to "equal parts Identity Evropa's flaccid
identitarian discourse ... and the fetishization of masculinity, physical fitness, and violence mixed
with the shallow anti -corporate and anti -consumerist themes of the film Fight Club. Propaganda
by the group .. .contains ... fascistic themes of emasculated young white men needing to reclaim
their identities through learning to fight and engaging in purifying violence." Accordingly, the
group regularly meets in public parks in the southern California area and trains in physical
fitness, boxing, and other fighting techniques. The following photographs were obtained from
RAM ' s public Twitter page:
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R.A.M . @RiseAboveMvmt A* Jan 24
Some de bate about t he future. othe rs work to build it. .#altnght i'fnationailst
#riseabove

12.

v

Benjamin Drake Daley (DALEY,) a resident of Redondo Beach, California,

figures prominently in the organization, and regularly appears in photographs posted to their

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publicly viewable Twitter page. RAM also regularly posts photos of themselves posing shirtless
and wearing skull half masks, with the group 's name overlaying the photo, as seen below.

R.A.M . @RiseAboveMvmt
;mationali~t #u'tranght

Mar 8

DALEY is seen front and center, kneeling on the far left of the first row in the photo.
13.

RAM and its members openly identify themselves on various social media

platforms as "alt-right" and "nationalist" and frequently posts videos and photographs of its
adherents engaged in vigorous physical training and mixed martial arts (MMA) street-fighting
techniques in order to prepare to engage in fighting and violence at political rallies.

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14.

The four defendants, DALEY, along with fellow RAM members/associates

Michael Paul Miselis (MISELIS,) Thomas Walter Gillen (GILLEN) and Cole Evan White
(WHITE,) traveled to Charlottesville from California on or about August 11 , 2017, and
participated in violent encounters in Charlottesville in connection with the torch-lit march of
August 11 , 20 17 and the UTR rally of August 12, 2017. In addition, these RAM members have
engaged in acts of violence at political rallies in Huntington Beach, CA (3/25/20 17), Berkeley,
CA (4/ 15/20 17), and other places. In the screen shots below from videos posted to Y outube, the
aforementioned individuals are seen engaging in acts of violence directed towards their supposed
political opponents and counter protestors at political rallies.

In this video, an individual believed to be DALEY can be seen attempting to kick and/or punch a
counter protestor, while wearing a half-skull face mask consistent with those depicted in RAM ' s
group photo previously noted.

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15.

GILLEN was also present during last year' s unrest in Berkeley, California, and

can be seen in the same video repeatedly punching a counter protestor who has fallen to the
ground.

GILLEN, in an apparent effort to prepare to engage in physical violence, has taped his fists in the
manner of boxers or MMA style fighters , as evidenced photo above, right.
16.

MISELIS, who along with DALEY, is a prominent member of RAM and was

present alongside him during the civil unrest at political rallies in Berkeley, CA and at least two
other places. In the following photograph, MISELIS appears with his fellow RAM members and
associates during the Berkeley riots, and like GILLEN, has taped his right fist in preparation:

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17.

Investigators have also identified COLE EVAN WHITE as being present with

RAM at the Charlottesville UTR rally, and who has appeared alongside RAM members during
the unrest in Berkeley, CA in 2017. White is a San Francisco area resident, and can be seen in
the following screenshots of footage from the Berkeley riots in April 2017.

White is the

individual in a purple sweater with flowing platinum blonde hair, alongside MISELIS, and later
attacking a counter protestor:

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18.

RAM and their associates, in contrast to their purpose referenced previously,

openly espouse animosity, anti-Semitism, and violence towards those who hold opposite
ideologies to their own, as evidenced by posts to their Twitter page:

ll

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v

R.A.M. @RiseAboveMvmt A* Mar 20
#national ist rFoptics

R.A.M. @RiseAboveMvmt A* Feb 15
Shortly after this pic antifa was btfo in Huntington Beach #defened #America
#nationalist #a ltright

0

n

1

v

\) 20

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R.A.M. @RiseAboveMvmt A* Feb 5
When the squads not out smashing commies .... "*nationalist ;;Jifestyle

19.

v

The FBI has been conducting an investigation into possible violations of federal

criminal law committed by individuals allegedly associated with RAM. The investigation was
initiated following receipt of infonnation that DALEY, GILLEN, MISELIS and WHITE,
attended the August 11-12, 2017 "Unite the Right" Rally in Charlottesville, Va. and committed
multiple acts of violence against counter protestors, which in some cases resulted in serious
mJunes. Photographs and video footage from the evening of August 11 , 2017, and from the
mommg of August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, corroborated the aforementioned
information.
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20.

Photographs and video footage have confirmed that DALEY, MISELIS ,

GILLEN, and WHITE were present and participated in the torch-lit march that culminated in
violence against students and other counter protestors. In the following screenshots, WHITE with the apparently dyed platinum blonde hair and horizontal striped shirt- can be seen using his
torch as a weapon on at least two occasions during the melee.

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21.

In addition to WHITE, DALEY also engaged in acts of violence that evening. A

search warrant of DALEY' s Facebook account revealed that he admitted to being present at the
torch march. In the conversation, DALEY was critical of another prominent white supremacist
for releasing a chemical spray at the march. DALEY stated that such spray was unnecessary
because "We had the[m] completely surrounded." DALEY admitted: "I hit like 5 people." In
March 2018, DALEY referred to "Friday [the torch march] was good ... Saturday [the UTR
rally] was a HUGE failure. "
22.

On the morning of August 12, 2017, DALEY, along with other members of

RAM, are seen in video footage committing acts of violence, assaulting counter-protestors by
punching, kicking and head butting on 2nd Street NE between the High and Jefferson cross streets
in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. DALEY, the white male with short-cropped reddish
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blonde hair wearing a white long-sleeved shirt and sun glasses, and with his fists taped, can be
seen in a screen shot from the footage punching and kicking a counter protestor:

23 .

At the same time, WHITE (in a white shirt, two-toned platinum hair, and

sunglasses) joins DALEY by grabbing a non-violent counter-protestor- who was merely holding
onto a street sign- by the shoulders and jerking him away. (Photo: below left). Afterwards,
WHITE head-butted a clergyman - the individual in the yellow shirt with tan hat- and who was
wearing a clerical collar. (Photo: below right).

24.

GILLEN, as seen in a still from the footage below, has his hands taped as he did

during the Berkeley unrest, again demonstrating his preparation for violent activity. GILLEN is

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seen in the aforementioned video assisting his fellow RAM members DALEY and MISELIS, as
they assault mutliple counter protestors on August 12, 20 17.

25.

In other video footage from the violence, WHITE can be seen headbutting a

female counter protestor, while DALEY assists him in the assault. (Photo: below, left). The
headbutt results in a severe laceration. (Photo: below, right).

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MISELIS , in the following screen shots of video footage used by Propublica.org in an article
about MIS ELlS ' alleged membership in RAM, appears to be shoving an African American to the
ground and then striking him. MISELIS , like DALEY, again has his fists taped in the manner of
boxers and MMA fighters:

Another screen shot from video footage depicts DALEY attacking a man without provocation:

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And later in the same video, MISELIS can be seen kicking the same man as he is falling to the
ground:

In the following screen shot, DALEY can be seen in the process of grabbing a female counterprotestor by the next and body slamming her to the ground.
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A screenshot from the footage below shows GILLEN, DALEY, WHITE, and MISELIS, acting
in concert with each other as they continue to engage in acts of violence towards counter
protestors.

20

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26.

The following photograph, taken by the Affiant on August 12, 2017 in

Emancipation Park (Market Street Park,) shows DALEY, WHITE, MISELIS and GILLEN,
among

others,

27.

posmg

behind

a

banner

representing

RAM:

Later that day, but still before the official 12:00pm start of the rally, the white

supremacists in Emancipation Park started to clash with counter-protestors at the entrance to the
park located at 2nd Street NE and Market Street NE. During this extended incident, both sides
threw water bottles at each other.

Miselis and Daley are captured in photos and on video

throwing water bottles into the crowd of counter-protestors. After Daley throws the water bottle,

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he

stands

28 .

up

on

s1gn

and

makes

a

"throat-slashing"

gesture

to

the

crowd:

Bank records obtained by the FBI for DALEY indicate that his credit card made

purchases at WalMart store # 1780 in Charlottesville on August 11 , 2017. The Affiant obtained
copies of those receipts, which revealed that DALEY, upon arriving in Charlottesville, purchased
rolls of white athletic tape, black spray paint, and a folding tactical knife.
29.

After returning to Southern California, Daley made various admissions about

committing acts of violence in Charlottesville and at other rallies in California.

CONCLUSION
30.

Based on the information set forth in this affidavit, I submit that there is probable

cause to believe:
31.

On or about August 11 , 2017, Defendant BENJAMIN DRAKE DALEY,

MICHAEL MISELIS, COLE WHITE, and THOMAS GILLEN traveled in interstate commerce
from California to Charlottesville, Virginia, within the Western District of Virginia, with intent
(a) to incite a riot, (b) to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, and carry on in a riot, (c)
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to commit an act of violence in furtherance of a riot, and (d) to aid or abet any person inciting
and participating in or carrying on in a riot and committing any act of violence in furtherance of
a riot; and during the course of such travel or thereafter performed or attempted to perform
multiple overt acts, including but not limited to: inciting, promoting, encouraging, participating
in, and carrying on in a riot, committing acts of violence in furtherance of a riot, and aiding and
abetting other persons inciting and participating in and carrying on in a riot and committing acts
of violence in furtherance of a riot, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2101 , 2.
Based on the forgoing, I request that the Court issue the proposed arrest warrant.
Respectfully submitted,

Subscribed and sworn to before me on

~-r ?--}

' 201 _i_

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