U.S. arrests four men in connection to 2017 Charlottesville rally

Four men linked to a white supremacist group were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the white nationalist rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, authorities said.

They were arrested in California and were to be transported to Charlottesville after making initial appearances in federal courts in California on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said at a news conference.

U.S. Justice Department officials said the men had traveled from California to incite a riot and bring violence to the August 2017 rally in the Virginia college town. They said the men were part of an organized, militant white supremacist group, named in the criminal complaint as the “Rise Above Movement.”

Each man faces 10 years in prison if found guilty, according to authorities.

Cullen said he expected a trial could start as soon as the end of the year.

Authorities decided the men’s alleged activities could be prosecuted under a federal statute on riots, instead of laws prohibiting hate crimes, but Cullen said there may be other charges against them.

Hundreds of people descended on Charlottesville in August 2017 to protest the removal of a statue honoring a commander of the Confederate Army, the losing side of the U.S. Civil War, in what was billed as a Unite the Right rally.

The 2017 rally drew international attention when James Alex Fields Jr. was accused of driving into a group of people, leaving 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead and dozens injured. Fields was charged with the killing in June.

At the time of the rally, President Donald Trump was condemned by Democratic and Republican political leaders for saying that “many sides” were to blame for the violence.

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