During the violent August 11th Charlottesville rally, numerous protesters wielded torches as they marched through the campus of the University of Virginia shouting “White lives matter!” The infamous scene has forever been immortalized as a viral internet meme, so you’ve likely already seen the image.
The following day, these same group of individuals gathered for a “Unite the Right” rally that proved to be fatal for Heather Heyer when a vehicle smashed into the crowed. Dozens of other victims were injured.
Now, at least four different white supremacists who allegedly traveled from California to take part in the two events have been arrested for inciting violence during the legal protests. The group reportedly targeted the events specifically in hopes of getting away with violence. At best, they hoped to incite a full-blown riot. All four men came to the events with taped fists. Prosecutors have allegedly obtained both photographs and video evidence to confirm that the men were all involved in violence during the event.
Authorities argue that the four men’s actions will not be considered a lawful exercise of their first Amendment rights. The suspects reportedly all came to Charlottesville to specifically commit violent acts. Further, the team of men had previously committed violence at other rallies in Berkeley, San Bernardino and Huntington Beach. Benjamin Drake Daley, Thomas Walter Gillen, Michael Paul Miselis and Cole Evan White were all arrested. Each suspect is facing at least two charges including violating federal riot statutes and conspiring to violate riot statutes.