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Threat Actor Profile - Rise Above Movement (R.A.M.)


Overview


The Rise Above Movement (aka RAM or R.A.M.) is a militant white supremacist group based in Southern California whose members are inspired by European identitarian movements and California’s racist skinhead movement. Although the group has organized numerous protests and counter-protests, RAM tends to primarily operate online. Rough estimates of membership count between 20-50 individuals, primarily located in the Orange County, California region.


R.A.M. members refer to themselves as the “premier MMA club of the Alt-Right” and heavily promote violence and confrontational tactics.1 Members often spend time together training in martial arts and regularly boast on social media about their street-fighting victories against their ideological adversaries.


The group was originally started in 2017 by Robert Rundo and Benjamin Daley as DIY Division before quickly changing its name to the Rise Above Movement. Rundo describes the group as a "militant racist and anti-Semitic group" which sees itself as defending Western civilization, which they claim is being undermined by "Muslims, immigrants and Jews", as well as liberals.2

R.A.M. members were involved in a number of violent altercations at protests in California (Huntington Beach, Berkeley, and San Bernardino), as well as at the now infamous 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was following this rally that several members (including Rundo and Daley) were charged with intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot.


Rundo and the group have made connections to Eastern European neo-Nazi and nationalist groups, with R.A.M. social media accounts sharing photographs of members meeting with groups in Eastern Europe, such as the Ukrainian political party National Corps and the Azov Battalion.3


The group has also launched a merchandise and apparel company in 2018, “The Right Brand Clothing”, to further market its ideology and fund its activities. Later, in 2019, R.A.M. launched “Our Fight Clothing Co.” an apparel company that sold R.A.M. branded clothing as well as a collection of European white supremacist brands. A year later in 2020, RAM launched “Media2Rise”, a YouTube channel that has produced a steady stream of videos ranging from activist how-to videos to workout routines. In 2022, the group announced the creation of “Will2Rise Records”, a music production company catering to white supremacist artists.4

 

Key Individuals


Robert Rundo

Robert Paul Rundo of San Clemente, California, is the co-founder of R.A.M. and leads the group’s MMA training program and social media accounts. Rundo and Daley founded RAM after claiming that they didn’t see a place for themselves in other far-right movements at the time, seeking to extend beyond activity on online forums.5

Rundo has prior convictions in New York and served an 18-month sentence for assault with a weapon stemming from a September 2009 stabbing following a fight with two Latino men. In 2018 he was indicted for planning and intentionally engaging in violent attacks and assaults against counter-protesters at various political events in Huntington Beach, Berkeley, and San Bernardino, California, as well as the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Rundo fled to Mexico and then to Central America, where he was arrested and extradited back to the United States. He was then arrested at Los Angeles International Airport and a search of his home found a large framed picture of Adolf Hitler.6 The charges were later reversed on appeal to the Ninth Circuit.7


Following this, Rundo traveled to various Eastern European countries participating in white supremacist events and making propaganda videos for R.A.M.’s social media accounts. Rundo’s 2020 move to Eastern Europe allowed him to solidify his links to European white supremacist groups and attended a number of far-right events in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Serbia. According to Bellingcat, Rundo is most likely currently living in Belgrade, Serbia.8


Benjamin Daley

Benjamin Drake Daley, of Redondo Beach, California, is the co-founder of R.A.M. and is featured prominently in the group’s recruitment videos. Daley has traveled throughout the country to participate in rallies and protests and was present at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was indicted in 2018 for intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot at Unite the Right. Daley pleaded guilty and was sentenced on July 19, 2019, to 37 months in prison.9


Thomas Gillen

Thomas Walter Gillen, of Redondo Beach was charged with one count of violating the federal riots statute and one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots statute. Gillen plead guilty and was sentenced to 33 months in prison. He was also previously jailed in 2014 for having an illegal handgun with a serial number ground off.10 Gillen has been photographed with Daley and other members at a 2017 book burning in Huntington Beach, California.


Robert Boman

Robert Boman of Torrance, California, was also indicted on a criminal conspiracy to riot and commit acts of violence at a political rally, however, his charges were dismissed. Boman also has an extensive criminal history and has been convicted of robbery, theft, battery, vandalism, trespassing, and assault.11


Tyler Laube

Tyler Laube of Redondo Beach, California, was also charged for his participation in Charlottesville and other violent protests, with his charges also being dismissed. He has a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions for robbery and bladed weapon violations.12


Aaron Eason

Aaron Eason was also charged with criminal conspiracy to riot and commit acts of violence at a political rally in 2018. He surrendered himself to authorities and his charges were ultimately dropped.


Michael Miselis

Michael Paul Miselis, of Lawndale, California, is a former employee of the defense contractor Northrop Grumann and was pursuing his Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering at UCLA before being charged following the 2017 Unite the Right rally. When Miselis was arrested, a search of his house found rifle ammunition, smoke bombs, flares, and an "88" poster (code for "Heil Hitler"). According to prosecutors, Miselis had recently met with members of violent white supremacist groups in Europe.13 Miselis ultimately pled guilty to conspiring to riot and served 27 months in prison.


Cole White

Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, California was charged with one count of violating the federal riots statute and one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots statute. White accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to 14 months, with seven months credit for time served.


Robert Smithson

Robert Smithson embarked on a “European tour” in April 2018 alongside Ben Daley and Robert Rundo to network and establish connections between the European nationalist groups and R.A.M.14

 

Identifiers

R.A.M. can be identified by their logo, which can be found on flags, shirts, and banners - featuring a sword sticking into a boulder, framed in front of an evergreen tree. Members oftentimes conceal their identity with skull masks, wear goggles to block pepper spray attacks, and wrap their hands and wrists with gauze or tape to protect themselves from injuries sustained during fights.

 

Affiliations

  • Patriot Front

  • Revolt Through Tradition

  • Hammerskins

  • Proud Boys

  • Azov Battalion

  • Identity Evropa

  • Keystone United

  • Nationalist Social Club of New England (aka “NSC,” “131 Crew”)

  • “Tradition and Order”

  • American Identity Movement

  • CasaPound

 

1https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounders/rise-above-movement-ram

2https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/09/us/ram-rise-above-movement-california-hate-group-charlottesville/index.html

3https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/10/29/three-members-rise-above-movement-arrested-california-fourth-sought-fugitive-turns-himself

4https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/white-supremacist-rise-above-movement-plants-a-flag-in-the-white-power-music-scene/

5https://www.counterextremism.com/extremists/robert-rundo

6https://www.newsweek.com/rise-above-movement-white-ram-charlottesville-berkeley-inciting-riots-1186443

7https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-hb-ram-charges-dropped-20190604-story.html

8https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2020/11/18/an-american-white-supremacists-new-home-in-serbia/

9https://heavy.com/news/2018/10/ben-benjamin-daley/

10https://heavy.com/news/2018/10/cole-white-thomas-gillen/

11https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounders/rise-above-movement-ram

12Ibid.

13https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-rise-above-hate-20181003-story.html

14https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounders/rise-above-movement-ram

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