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Suspected neo-Nazis charged in connection with violent 2017 Charlottesville rally

A man makes a slashing motion across his throat twoard counter-protesters as he marches with other white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After clashes with anti-fascist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering and people were forced out of Emancipation Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Four alleged members of a militant white supremacist group have been charged with inciting rioting and assaulting counterprotesters at last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to court documents.

A criminal complaint filed in US District Court for the Western District of Virginia identified the California men as Benjamin Drake Daley, Michael Paul Miselis, Thomas Walter Gillen, and Cole Evan White.

US Attorney Thomas Cullen described the men as “serial rioters,” saying they also engaged in acts of violence at California political rallies last year in Huntington Beach, Berkeley and other cities.

The four men are accused of traveling from California to Charlottesville for the rally “with intent (a) to incite a riot, (b) to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, and carry on in a riot, (c) as having ‘participated in violent encounters in Charlottesville,'” the complaint said.

The defendants were identified in the complaint as members and associates of the Rise Above Movement, a militant white supremacist organization based in Southern California.

The criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday described the defendants as “among the most violent individuals” at the Charlottesville rally.

The men face rioting and conspiracy charges, with maximum prison sentences of five years on each county, according to Cullen. The prosecutor said the investigation is ongoing, and additional arrests are possible.

The violence at the August 2017 event began ahead of a planned rally that the Southern Poverty Law Center described as the “largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades.”

Scuffles and fistfights broke out over that weekend before a man drove a silver Dodge Charger into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer, 32, a local paralegal whose father said she was always fighting for others.

An Ohio man accused of driving the car was charged with second-degree murder in Heyer’s death.

By Ray Sanchez and Carma Hassan, CNN