Rise Above Movement

Introduction

The Rise Above Movement (RAM), founded in 2017, is a white supremacist gang based in Southern California that calls itself the “premier MMA (mixed martial arts) club of the Alt-Right.”* RAM co-founder Robert Rundo said he and Ben Daley founded RAM because they did not see a place for themselves in the far-right movement at the time, condemning the alt-right movement for “playing dress-up.”* According to Rundo, they wanted a group that would reach beyond online forums. He looked to European groups such as Generation Identity that were doing banner drops, demonstrations, and physical training.* RAM members have engaged in violence at multiple rallies since 2017, including that year’s the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.*

RAM claims it wants to revive the “warrior spirit” of the white male.* MMA and athleticism are central focuses of RAM. According to Rundo, RAM began as an athletics club.* Members train in MMA and boxing. They then use these skills in violent confrontations.* In early 2018, RAM members traveled to Europe to participate in MMA tournaments organized by neo-Nazi groups in Germany and Ukraine.* RAM chapters have organized as individual “active clubs” in the style of boxing clubs and neighborhood gyms from the early 20th century. According to Rundo, RAM chapters fill a need for boys to learn masculine skills to become men, as groups such as the Boy Scouts and youth gyms have either abrogated their duties or been overrun by minorities.*

RAM no longer appears to have centralized oversight. Instead, RAM organizes as individual “active clubs” dedicated to the group’s ideological tenants of providing camaraderie and athletic training for white men. These clubs are organized based on geography and participate in group physical fitness, training in MMA and combat sports, and propaganda activities such as graffiti and distributing stickers. According to Rundo, these smaller clubs provide members with local fellowship, particularly for white youth who have been eclipsed by minorities in other communal groups. Rundo has also praised the small active club model for distracting journalists who focus on tracking one small group while others grow.* RAM active clubs have a presence in New York state, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, Indiana, and Quebec. These groups identify as “active clubs,” not necessarily as part of RAM, though members appear in photos wearing RAM-branded clothing and tattoos.

RAM members have been involved in physical assaults at protests in California and Charlottesville, Virginia. RAM sent members to the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, after which co-founder Daley and three other members were charged with conspiracy to riot. All four pled guilty in 2019.* The U.S. Department of Justice has noted that RAM, a “white supremacy extremist group,” has used the Internet “with the intent to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on riots.”*

After Daley pled guilty in 2019 to rioting charges, RAM was considered defunct, according to court documents.* In June 2019, a federal judge dropped charges against Rundo and two other and two other RAM members in a separate case involving violent rioting.* In March 2021, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated rioting charges against Rundo.* RAM began a new recruitment drive online in celebration of its 2019 legal victory.* The group has since found new life on various online platforms. A February 2019 post on Gab declared RAM is “coming back stronger than ever.”* Rundo was reportedly living in Europe as of 2020. Serbia expelled him from the country in February 2021 and he allegedly fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where authorities were searching for him as of that March. Rundo continued to appear on RAM podcasts in Bosnia.*

Leadership

RAM was co-founded by Robert Rundo and Ben Daley.

Robert Rundo

Co-founder

Ben Daley

Co-founder

Base of Operations

California.*

Website

https://media2rise.com/ 

Membership Size and Relevance

As of 2017, RAM claimed to have 50 members.* Its membership reportedly increased following a revitalization of the group in 2019.*Since RAM began promoting smaller, individual “active clubs,” there is no gauge of its current membership size. The active clubs are present in at least five U.S. states and Quebec.

Recruitment and Propaganda

RAM’s logo consists of a medieval sword in a stone against the backdrop of an evergreen tree against a diamond.* The sword imagery evokes the Crusades and RAM has also carried Crusader flags during rallies.* RAM utilizes social media to spread its propaganda. The group has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, but maintains a presence on Gab and Telegram.* As of October 7, 2020, RAM had 965 followers on Gab.* That number increased to 971 by January 6, 2021,* and slightly decreased to 965 as of April 13, 2021.*

In April 2020, RAM propaganda began appearing on a new website, Media 2 Rise (M2R), which declared its goal to create documentaries and short films for a nationalist audience.* M2R also maintained a YouTube channel, which had 888 subscribers as of October 7, 2020. The channel primarily uploaded a video series that followed Rundo as he traveled Europe and offers advice on white supremacist organizing, propaganda, lifestyle, and evading authorities.* The channel’s subscribers increased to more than 1,400 as of January 6, 2021, but has since been suspended.* The M2R website also includes submissions from the Russian/Ukrainian neo-Nazi group Wotan Jugend, the fascist Revolt Through Tradition group, and RAM.*

RAM also partnered with the far-right clothing retailer Our Fight Clothing Co. to produce RAM-branded clothing. The company’s website shut down as of July 2019 and RAM began selling clothing through the Will2Rise website. Will2Rise claims all products are made in Eastern Europe so that only nationalists “of like mind touch” their products.* Will2Rise also purports proceeds go to support imprisoned RAM members, which RAM refers to as prisoners of war.* International allies of RAM have unveiled a campaign called “Free RAM,” which calls for the release of RAM’s so-called political prisoners who were allegedly only defending themselves against Antifa.* Will2Rise provides a customer service contact address and phone number based in Queens, New York.*

Violent Activities

Rhetoric

  • Robert Rundo, December 7, 2020: “In the past young white males often took to things like Boy scouts, boxing clubs, and other organizations that provided young males an outlet to build themselves up and form comradery within their community. As we know, many of these once pillars of youth have been rotted from the inside out. Boy scouts no longer teach boys how to be men; instead softening them up, discouring [sic] any forms of competition, accepting girls, and promoting LGBT values. All of these are having the desired effect of undoing its founding principles. In many working-class areas, boxing clubs used to be a staple for the youth, especially in Italian and Irish neighborhoods. These were often free gyms set up by the YMCA or the PAL for youth to stay off the streets and be productive. Today this is almost non-existent, and if they are around, they are far removed from any white neighborhoods and explicitly cater to blacks or other people of color. I speak from personal experience as I started boxing in one of these youth gyms in queens before closing. I took the bus an hour away from me to Corona Queens at Elmcore boxing club. The feeling in there being the lone white was most unwelcomed and, other times, outright hostile. The coaches were old-time five percenters (black supremacist) or Nation of Islam (black Muslims) types, which was very prevalent in the boxing world, especially in NY. The bottom line was, these places did not give a welcome to guys like us. As most institutions give little or no regard for white youth today, Active Clubs’ role will fill that gap.”*
  • Robert Rundo, YouTube video, January 1, 2021: “Nationalism today is part of youth culture. It’s not going anywhere.”*
  • Robert Rundo, YouTube video, September 2020: “When you’re dealing with a certain type of characters, they’ll push their body right into your hand…and that’s when you strike. Second thing, I would say strike first. When you’re in a situation that you know danger is imminent, strike first. Strike first, strike hard, no mercy, Cobra Kai style. That’s really something that you need to do, your life is depending on it, your loved ones are depending on it, you don’t want to become a victim. You know, trust me. They’re not going to show you mercy.”*
  • Robert Rundo, YouTube video, July 2020: “When we showed up at a rally in San Bernardino, there were probably 15 of us, all clean shaven, white Americans. You know? Man, we were walking into the rally, and I swear on everything, there was a group of Antifa and one of these fuckers yelled at us, he goes, ‘Where are your minorities? Where are your minorities?’ Your skin is your uniform bro, trust me, when you have 10 white guys just walking together this is a statement right here. That is a statement.”*
  • Robert Rundo, YouTube video, July 2020: “Your skin is your uniform. They’ll hate you regardless.”*
  • Gab post, September 12, 2019: “Many dont see the point to these events, they say training is a waste of time or think it only as a tool of defense. Currently the movement in the US offers nothing more than a chance to hate the reds or tell you of our race is dying, but what else do we offer? Edgy memes? Is that really what this whole movement should be built on? Incorperating sports, competitions and events like this offer something more. To connect with one another and build a real world brotherhood, forming the communitys we so despertly want. A chance for one to test himself and to achieve. most important to get active and keep the flame alive. with that people will want to get involved and this movement will grow but we need to offer something real.”*
  • Gab post, September 8, 2019: “The movement in America will never succeed because of infighting and ego. Only through white unity we will win.”*
  • Gab post, July 18, 2019: “Tomorrow Ben Daley, Mike Miselis and Tom Gillen all go to sentencing. We all hope for the best tomorrow. These were some of the most solid men i ever met. This whole thing is stems from wall st backed media pushing a narrative and the fbi following suit. None of these guys came with weapons although those they faced had plenty, they stood their ground they stood for our people. Whatever happens tomorrow we must not forget these men.”*
  • Gab post, March 12, 2018: “Make our people strong again #nationalist #ultraright #bloodsports”*
  • Gab post, January 25, 2018: “A new year and a new direction for the alt right, time to leave behind online memes and countless hours shitposting and act like we really do want a world that exists beyond discords and edgy websites. train-organize-get active-repeat”*
  • Gab post, January 20, 2018: “We physically remove antifa ;)”*
  • Ben Daley, Facebook message, August 2017: “Its time to reimagine the nationalist look and playbook, we have become predictable that needs to change.”*

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On September 20, 2020, Taliban militants ambushed a security checkpoint in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. The attack killed at least 24 members of the Afghan security forces.  

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