California man pleads guilty to inciting violence at Unite the Right rally

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A member of a white supremacist organization pleaded guilty Monday morning to conspiring to riot in connection with the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.

Twenty-five-year-old Thomas Gillen is a member of the Rise Above Movement, or RAM. U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said that Gillen admitted as part of his guilty plea that he attended the rally to incite violence, not to protect free speech.

Gillen is from Redondo Beach, California. RAM is a California-based militant group that identifies as part of the "alt-right" and frequently posts messages that are anti-Semitic and express white supremacist views.

Other RAM members Benjamin Daley, Michael Miselis and Cole White also face federal riot charges. White pleaded guilty in November.

Cullen said that RAM and its members traveled to multiple political rallies in 2017 and organized demonstrations where they prepared to engage in acts of violence.

When Gillen and other RAM members arrived in Charlottesville in August 2017, Cullen said they purchased athletic tape at Walmart to wrap their wrists to help them with street fighting.

Gillen joined hundreds of other white nationalists on Aug. 11, 2017, at a torch-lit march on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. During the march, participants chanted "Blood and soil!" and "Jews will not replace us!" When students gathered to protest white supremacy, Gillen struck several of them with his torch.

The following morning, Gillen was part of a group of white supremacists who pushed, punched and kicked their way into Emancipation Park.

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