Charlottesville white nationalist rally
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 13:  Flowers surround a photo of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting against the white supremacist Unite the Right rally, August 13, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is calm the day after violence errupted around the Unite the Right rally, a gathering of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and members of the 'alt-right,' that left Heyer dead and injured 19 others.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)
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A counter demonstrator uses a lighted spray can against a white nationalist demonstrator at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, August 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors.
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Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, holds a photo of Bro's mother and her daughter, Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. Heyer was killed Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, when police say a man plowed his car into a group of demonstrators protesting the white nationalist rally. Bro said that she is going to bare her soul to fight for the cause that her daughter died for.
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People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)
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CNN —  

Four alleged members of a militant white supremacist group have been charged with inciting rioting and assaulting counterprotesters at last year’s deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A criminal complaint filed in US District Court for the Western District of Virginia identified the California men as Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, of Redondo Beach; Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale; Thomas Walter Gillen, 34, of Redondo Beach; and Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton.

The four men are accused of traveling from California to Charlottesville for the rally “with intent (a) to incite a riot, (b) to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, and carry on in a riot, (c) as having ‘participated in violent encounters in Charlottesville,’” the complaint said.

‘Among the most violent individuals’ at rally

The defendants were identified in the complaint as members and associates of the Rise Above Movement, a militant white supremacist organization based in Southern California.

The criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday called the defendants “among the most violent individuals” at the Charlottesville rally.

The men face riot and conspiracy charges, with maximum prison sentences of five years on each count, according to Cullen. The prosecutor said the investigation is ongoing, and additional arrests are possible.

The violence at the August 2017 event began ahead of a planned rally that the Southern Poverty Law Center described as the “largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades.”

On their way to the Unite the Right rally in Emancipation Park, Daley, Miselis, Gillen and White had “with their hands taped and ready to do street battle, committed multiple acts of violence, including punching, kicking, headbutting and pushing numerous people,” Cullen said.

Their victims included an African-American man, two women and a minister wearing a clerical collar, Cullen said. Some were seriously injured.

Photo and video footage in the complaint show the group wearing half-skull masks in group shots.

Gillen, Daley and Miselis are shown assaulting multiple counterprotesters, the complaint said. In other photos, some of the men are seen apparently kicking and slamming counterprotesters to the ground.

Photos show defendants engaging in violence at rallies

Cullen said investigators spent months reviewing digital evidence in the case, including social media posts, photos and videos.

White allegedly used a torch as a weapon and Daley boasted on social media of hitting five people at a torch-lit rally, the complaint said.

Rise Above Movement members openly identify themselves on social media as “alt-right” and “nationalist” and frequently post videos and photos of them performing physical training and mixed martial arts street-fighting techniques “in order to prepare to engage in fighting and violence at political rallies,” the complaint said.

RAM openly espouses anti-Semitism and violence toward those who “hold opposite ideologies to their own,” according to the complaint.

Three of the defendants appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon. It’s unclear whether they have attorneys.

The complaint includes numerous photos of the defendants engaging in violence at rallies.

Scuffles and fistfights broke out over that weekend before a man drove a silver Dodge Challenger into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer, 32, a local paralegal whose father said she was always fighting for others.

An Ohio man accused of driving the car was charged with second-degree murder in Heyer’s death.

CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin and Emily Smith contributed to this report.