LOS ANGELES (CN) – A California man with alleged ties to a
white nationalist group that incited riots across the state last year was
released on bond Friday.
Aaron Eason, 38, was one of four men indicted for allegedly inciting riots as part of the white supremacist group Rise Above Movement (RAM) last October.
Eason appeared in a federal courtroom in Los Angeles on Friday in a white jumpsuit with his court-appointed attorney John McNicholas, who said that Eason would not use social media, attend political rallies or associate with politics as a condition of his bond.
U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney said, “Or associate with white supremacist organizations. Do you make that promise, Mr. Eason?”
“Absolutely, your honor,” Eason said.
As a condition of his release, Eason will be required to find a job, stay off social media and not associate with any white supremacist groups.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ryan said that would be difficult because many white supremacist groups do not identify as such.
Still, Carney addressed Eason and said, “I’m trusting you.”
Eason was denied bond twice before, but Carney issued bond ahead of a criminal trial later this year.
Eason is the second member of the RAM organization who was released on bond, as Carney granted it for Tyler Laube, 22, of Redondo Beach last month. Laube pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and was initially denied bond by a magistrate judge last year, but was eventually released on a bond.
RAM represented itself as a “combat-ready, militant group of a new nationalist white supremacy and identity movement,” according to the indictment.
Members held combat training sessions which Eason attended, according to prosecutors. He also is said to have rented a van for RAM to travel to a rally in Berkeley which turned violent.
Prosecutors argued Eason posed a danger to the community if he were to be released because of statements he made that showed the group sought to incite violence at rallies and his continued efforts to be part of a white supremacist organization.
Eason messaged his girlfriend in October 2018 when RAM was just about disbanded, saying he wanted to join another Neo-Nazi group.
“That’s troubling,” said Carney and asked for an explanation.
McNicholas said, “It was a joke. Tongue-in-cheek.”
Members of RAM bragged about attacking counter protesters at rallies across California in 2017, according to prosecutors, including a violent brawl at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Huntington Beach.
Several members of RAM attacked counterprotesters and journalists.
White supremacists chased and continued to attack people in a parking lot outside of the Huntington Beach rally, which prosecutors said goes against the claim that the group was there to provide security for political speakers.
Ryan said RAM and other white supremacist groups used footage and video from violent brawls as a recruitment model online.
“There was a culture to lift up and celebrate the violence,” Ryan said.
RAM members claimed after a brawl in Berkeley where they chased members of Antifa that they would return to other rallies as “victors” and there was a “bragging excitement” to beat people up and train for those brawls shared online.
Carney said he did not want to excuse the actions or statements by Eason or the other members of RAM, but said that Antifa was partly to blame for the violence at the rallies.
“They’re pretty bad people too,” Carney said about Antifa. “I would not characterize Antifa as innocent people.”
Ryan said members of RAM did not hurt just members of Antifa, but others as well were chased and beaten.
Outside the courtroom, McNicholas said Eason is finally in a position to form an effective defense without being in jail. He said they plan to fight the charge at a July criminal trial.