Monday, April 15, 2024

White Nationalists Still Facing Federal Charges over 2017 Charlottesville Rally

'At least 23 ARA cases were charged across the country ... Still, none of these cases appear to charge a member of Antifa, BAMN, or any other "far left" group for misconduct in protesting conservative political rallies...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) More than six years after the fact, white nationalists Robert Rundo and Robert Boman are still facing federal charges stemming from the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally—even though they didn’t attend that event.

Rundo, Boman and Tyler Laube—all members of the white nationalist Rise Above Movement, or RAM—were first charged with planning and engaging in riots at political rallies in 2018. A federal district court dismissed the charges in 2019, finding that the federal Anti-Riot Act violated the First Amendment. However, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court reversed the decision in 2021 and the charges were reinstated.

Rundo, the lead defendant, was just extradited to the U.S. from Romania last August, and has been held in prison ahead of his trial, which is currently set for next month. Laube, meanwhile, struck a plea deal last September and is set to be sentenced March 4.

While the defendants admittedly participated in violence at political rallies in California, none of them even attended the Charlottesville event. The Justice Department nevertheless included Charlottesville-related allegations in its indictment against the three men on the grounds that other RAM members attended the Unite the Right rally.

Last month, Rundo’s attorneys filed a motion to strike mentions of Charlottesville from his indictment.

“None of the defendants in this case attended the Charlottesville rally, and the alleged RAM members who did attend have already been federally prosecuted in the district where that rally occurred,” Rundo’s motion said.

“The FSI nowhere alleges that defendants specifically entered an agreement to riot in Charlottesville or to aid or abet any other person to do so. The inclusion of the Charlottesville rally, then, seems designed to inflame the passions of the jury and prejudice them against the defendants in Southern California.”

Rundo also has filed a motion to dismiss his charges on selective-prosecution grounds. According to that motion, he and the other two defendants are the first people in decades to be charged in the Ninth Circuit with the Anti-Riot Act, or ARA, which makes it a crime to use interstate travel or communications to plan a riot.

“As far as the defense can tell, in the last 20 years, this is the only ARA case in the Ninth Circuit. Nationally, before this case and based on the information available, the defense can only identify eight ARA cases over the previous 51 years,” Rundo’s motion said.

“Since this case and its related case in Virginia, there has been a proliferation of ARA charges across the nation. In only five years, at least 23 ARA cases were charged across the country, an increase of over three times as many such cases in a tenth of the time. Still, none of these cases appear to charge a member of Antifa, BAMN, or any other ‘far left’ group for misconduct in protesting conservative political rallies,” the motion added.

The DOJ, for its part, has opposed both Rundo’s motion to dismiss as well as his motion to strike the Charlottesville-related allegations.

Responding to the motion to strike, the DOJ said in a Feb. 5 filing that the defendants still conspired to riot at Charlottesville—even though they weren’t at the event.

The DOJ argued that even though Rundo wasn’t there, “a defendant need not personally commit the overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy [to be guilty of conspiracy] so long as one of the coconspirators did so.”

“Rundo and his co-conspirators continued to prepare for violence leading up to the Charlottesville event, and that his co-conspirators and RAM followers carried out violence at that event in the name of RAM,” the DOJ said.

“Indeed … the government intends to present evidence at trial that defendant Rundo contemplated attending the Charlottesville event with other RAM members and then specifically directed another RAM member to document RAM members’ actions at the event.”

A judge has yet to rule on Rundo’s motions. Rundo and Boman are set to go to trial on March 26.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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