Two members of a white supremacist group pleaded guilty on Friday in connection with their involvement with the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, The Associated Press reports.
Benjamin Drake Daley of Redondo Beach, California, and Michael Paul Miselis of Lawndale, California, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to riot. The two men are members of the Rise Above Movement, a violent white supremacist group notorious for training for combat, including through mixed marital arts and street-fighting.
Cole White and Thomas Gillen, two other members of the group, each pleaded guilty to the same charge previously.
Each of the four have now admitted to punching and kicking demonstrators who were present at the rally protesting the white nationalists, who were participating in the “Unite the Right” rally at the University of Virginia in August of 2017. The four were also indicted with a separate charge: traveling to incite riots.
“These avowed white supremacists traveled to Charlottesville to incite and commit acts of violence, not to engage in peaceful First Amendment expression,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said in a prepared statement.
Evidently the men have more than once traveled around the county for the purposes of violently participating in rallies such as Charlottesville. According to prosecutors, photo and video evidence shows them attacking counter-protestors in Charlottesville, as well as engaging in violence at political rallies in both Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California.
Two alleged white supremacists described by authorities as traveling "serial rioters" each pleaded guilty to a federal crime today for instigating violence during the notorious 2017 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville. https://t.co/H6DR4cd4uO— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 3, 2019
Each man could face as many as five years in prison for their respective single charges.
Daley attempted to have the charges against him dismissed, with his lawyers arguing that the federal Anti-Riot Act under which the men were charged, is unconstitutional. The attorney, Public Defender Lisa Lorish, argued that the act is overly broad and sufficiently vague as to infringe on First Amendment protections. The request to dismiss was denied by the judge.
“Instead of being tried under a broad, vague and unconstitutional statute, Mr. Daley has chosen to plead guilty and appeal the constitutionality of the statute,” Lorish said.
As part of their guilty pleas, each man was forced to acknowledge that the violence in which they participated was in no way an act of self defense.
The violence at the event, engaged in by these defendants and others, led authorities to break up the rally. Shortly after the event was broken up, one protestor was killed and dozens were injured when a self-described white supremacist drove his car through the crowd.
That man, James Fields Jr., was convicted of state murder and wounding charges and is now awaiting sentencing.