January 22, 2018
R.A.M. (Rise Above Movement) is a white supremacist group based in Southern California whose members believe they are fighting against a “modern world” corrupted by the “destructive cultural influences” of liberals, Jews, Muslims and non-white immigrants. They refer to themselves as the “premier MMA (mixed martial arts) club of the Alt-Right.”
- R.A.M. operates like a street-fighting club. Members actively train to do physical battle with their ideological foes, and have been involved in violent clashes during political rallies and demonstrations.
- While they consider themselves part of the alt right, R.A.M.’s membership has deep roots in California’s racist skinhead movement, and includes individuals who have faced serious criminal charges, including assault, robbery and weapon offenses.
The Rise Above Movement (R.A.M.) is a white supremacist group based in Southern California (predominantly Orange County region) whose members believe they are fighting against a “modern world” corrupted by the “destructive cultural influences” of liberals, Jews, Muslims, and the effects of non-white immigration. Their ostensible goal is to restore European-American (i.e., white) culture to America and create a “conservative counter-culture” that embraces white identity and “traditional Christian” values. They see themselves as patriotic crusaders who are fighting against “communist” forces and advocating on behalf of a victimized white population.
“We want to rise above all of today's destructive culture and see the rebirth of our people, strong in mental and physical capacities as our forefathers were. In a time when you can be harmed for your political beliefs or shamed for your heritage, we are here to defend our identity and shared goals.” Rise Above Movement, Instagram, June 12, 2017
“The Rise Above Movement is the premier MMA club of the Alt-Right, representing the United States. Their dedication is to promote an active lifestyle and common values among young people and a future for European people. This is achieved through training, creative thinking and activism. The main task of The Rise Above Movement is to revive the spirit of a warrior and to see the rebirth of values of Western Civilization’s forefathers.” Rise Above Movement, GAB.ai, December 18, 2017
Benjamin Daley of Hermosa Beach is a leader in the Rise Above Movement and is featured prominently in the group’s recruitment videos. He has traveled not only throughout California to attend rallies but also participated in the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Daley has a history of using social media to promote anti-Semitic cartoons and conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the banking, media and legal system.
Robert Rundo of San Clemente, California, is in charge of the group’s MMA training program.
R.A.M. consists of several dozen loosely affiliated neo-Nazis and racist skinheads who were formerly known as DIY Division, but rebranded themselves as the Rise Above Movement in the spring of 2017. “The premier MMA club of the alt right,” espouses racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance at events and online. Members have been spotted carrying “Da Goyim Know” signs, a reference to an anti-Semitic trope about Jews trying to keep non-Jews “in the dark” about their plans for world domination. During an anti-Muslim rally in San Bernardino, one member held a sign declaring, “Rapefugees Not Welcome.” Several others held a banner that read, “Defend America. Islamists Out,” and depicted lance-wielding crusaders on horseback chasing after fleeing Muslims. This is a take on the R.A.M. logo, which includes a crusader sword and an evergreen tree.
Propensity for Violence
The group operates like a street-fighting club, and promotes physical fitness and strength-training in preparation for altercations with counter-protesters at political rallies and demonstrations. In 2017, R.A.M. members were part of violent clashes at California rallies in Berkeley and Huntington Beach, and at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Members attend events prepared to fight, concealing their identity with skull masks or American flag themed bandanas, wearing goggles to counter pepper spray and wrapping their hands and wrists with gauze or tape to protect themselves from injuries.
Several R.A.M. members have violent criminal backgrounds, with convictions for felony assault, robbery and weapon violations. Robert Rundo has prior convictions in New York for assault with a weapon and gang assault 2nd degree. Tyler Laube of Redondo Beach, California, has a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions for robbery and bladed weapon violations. Robert Bowman of Torrance, California, also has an extensive criminal history, and has been convicted of robbery, theft, battery, vandalism, trespassing and assault.
R.A.M.’s violent ideology is glorified in the group’s recruitment videos and other online propaganda. The videos cut back and forth from footage of members brawling at demonstrations to scenes of members participating in workout sessions. Their digital propaganda also highlights violence against the left, and features images of members wearing t-shirts emblazoned with phrases like “Kill a Commie for Mommy,” or posing in front of graffiti of the letters GNLS, an acronym for “Good Night Left Side,” a common anti-antifa slogan.
In addition to working out and honing their fighting skills, R.A.M. typically participates in California events organized by other far-right groups and individuals, including Identity Evropa, Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer, Juan Benitez Cadavid (aka Johnny Benitez), Red Elephant’s Vincent James Foxx, and Kyle Chapman of the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights.
Occasionally, R.A.M members will organize their own protest activities. In July 2017, members attempted to disrupt a Committee for Racial Justice meeting in Santa Monica. That same month, they hung this banner over a Torrance freeway: “Secure Borders, Secure Future.”
- Charlottesville, Virginia, August 2017: R.A.M members attended the “Unite the Right” rally and contributed to violence against counter-protesters.
- Santa Monica, California, July 2017: R.A.M. members attempted to disrupt a Committee for Racial Justice meeting.
- Torrance, California, July 2017: R.A.M. members hung a “Secure Borders, Secure Future” banner over the 110 Freeway.
- San Bernardino, California, June 2017: R.A.M. members participated in an “anti-Sharia law” protest holding signs that read “Defend America Islamists out!” and “RAPEFUGEES stay away NOT WELCOME.”
- Berkeley, California, April 2017: R.A.M. members engaged in physical altercations with counter-protesters during a “Say No to Marxism” rally hosted by Kyle Chapman and other far right activists.
- Huntington Beach, California, March 2017: Approximately a dozen R.A.M. members attended a “Make America Great Again” rally under the banner of DIY Division. As the event turned violent, RAM members fanned out and began fighting with counter-protesters.