Four people have been charged with violating anti-riot laws in connection with the deadly "Unite the Right" rally that rocked Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
All four, who live in California, are part of the "Rise Above Movement," a white supremacist group, prosecutors said.
"I think we'll have a number of witnesses, in addition to video and other evidence, that clearly establishes how these four individuals incited a riot, committed acts of violence and therefore violated federal law," United States Attorney Thomas Cullen said at a press conference.
The riot in question began on Aug. 11, 2017, when hundreds of torch-bearing white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus, chanting slogans such as "blood and soil" and "Jews will not replace us."
The next day, more violence erupted as white nationalists and protesters clashed in downtown Charlottesville. One woman, Heather Heyer, was killed and dozens more were injured when a white nationalist backed his car into a crowd of protesters.
James Fields Jr., the suspected driver, has already been charged with federal hate crimes in Heyer's death, as well as state murder charges.
And Jacob Scott Goodwin, another white nationalist, was found guilty of "malicious wounding" in the beating of DeAndre Harris at the rally. Harris suffered a broken arm and a spinal injury.
Cullen addressed a common defense of white nationalists at Tuesday's press conference: That by rallying and demonstrating, the nationalists are simply exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.
In August, white nationalists defended that right at a D.C. rally, which aimed to promote "white civil rights," in the face of what they see as civil rights abuses against white people.
But Cullen said the group's actions in Charlottesville last year went beyond the realm of simple free speech.
"This is a group that essentially submits to an anti-Semitic, racist ideology and then organizes, trains and deploys to various political rallies, not only to espouse their particular ideology but also to engage in acts of violence," Cullen said. "This wasn't the lawful exercise of First Amendment rights."
Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Miselis, Thomas Walter Gillen and Cole Evan White were charged with violating the Riot Act, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, as well as conspiracy to violate the Riot Act, which also carries a maximum sentence of five years, Cullen said. Each could face up to 10 years in prison.
"We could be trying this case by the end of the year," Cullen said. "And we're ready to do that."