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Hullabaloo


Thursday, July 05, 2018

 
Modern blackshirts don't wear black shirts

by digby



From Pro Publica:
There likely isn’t such a thing as a “typical” violent white extremist in America in 2018. Still, Michael Miselis — a University of California, Los Angeles doctoral student with a U.S. government security clearance to work on sensitive research for a prominent defense contractor — makes for a pretty unusual case.

For months, ProPublica and Frontline have been working to identify the white supremacists at the center of violent demonstrations across the country, including the infamous Unite the Right rally last August in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Rise Above Movement, a Southern California group that expresses contempt for Muslims, Jews, and immigrants, became a focus of that effort. ProPublica and Frontline were able to quickly identify a number of the group’s leaders, and find evidence that put them in the middle of violence in Charlottesville and Berkeley, California, among other places.

But one seeming member of RAM was harder to nail down. In video shot in Charlottesville, a bearded, husky man is seen in a red Make America Great Again hat with his hands wrapped in tape that came in handy for the brawling that occurred that day. During one encounter, the unidentified man in the red hat pushed an African-American protester to the ground and began pounding on him, video of the episode shows; moments later, a known RAM member choked and bloodied a pair of female counterprotesters. The possible RAM member also had turned up in video shot during hours of combat at a Trump rally in Berkeley, as well. Wearing protective goggles to ward off pepper spray, the man fought alongside RAM members, wrestling one protester to the ground and punching others.

Ultimately, ProPublica and Frontline determined the man in the violent footage was Miselis, a 29-year-old pursuing a Ph.D. in UCLA’s aerospace engineering program. Miselis was identified using video footage and social media posts, and reporters confirmed his identity in an encounter with him outside his home. In interviews, a number of California law enforcement officials said Miselis was a member of RAM.

In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Miselis works as a systems engineer for Northrop Grumman, the giant defense contractor with a plant in Redondo Beach, California.

He claims they "have the wrong guy."

This radical white supremacist is working on national security. And evidently his radicalism either wasn't uncovered in the background checks he underwent or --- they just didn't think it mattered. The reporters spoke with co-workers who knew he was part of this RAM group in Charlottesville.

Here's a little something about that group:

As ProPublica has previously reported, RAM first surfaced publicly last spring and has quickly established itself as one of the violent groups in the resurgent white supremacist scene; members, who regularly train in boxing and martial arts, have been documented engaging in a string of melees. Founded in early 2017 by Robert Rundo, a Queens, New York, native who served an 18-month prison sentence for stabbing a rival gang member six times during a 2009 street fight, the group’s core membership is small — 15 to 20 young men — but capable of real menace, ProPublica’s reporting has shown.

Rundo has recruited followers from the Orange County and San Diego chapters of the Hammerskin Nation, the country’s largest Nazi skinhead gang, and one the authorities say has been behind at least nine murders. One of the Hammerskins who joined up with RAM, Matthew Branstetter, went to prison in California in 2011 on hate crime charges for robbing and assaulting a Jewish man in an Orange County park. The attack left the victim with “a concussion, broken jaw, eye socket fracture, broken nose, cracked ribs, severe facial bruising, and cuts and bruises to his body and face,” according to a news release issued by county prosecutors at the time. Other RAM members have spent time in prison and Los Angeles County Jail on charges for robbery, firearms possession and other offenses.

In case you were wondering they don't actually wear either black or brown shirts. They're a little bit more modern:

That's Micelis with his arms up