Charlottesville protester identified as member of violent white supremacist group, defense contractor with security clearance

Charlottesville protester identified as member of violent white supremacist group, defense contractor with security clearance
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A protester caught on video during last year's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., assaulting an African-American man has been identified as a Ph.D. student who has a government security clearance.

A ProPublica–Frontline investigation published Thursday identified 29-year-old Michael Miselis as the bearded man seen on video wearing protective goggles at the rally to protect from pepper spray while viciously assaulting counterprotesters, including one African-American man who was shoved to the ground and beaten repeatedly.

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Miselis, according to the investigation, is a member of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a Southern California group identified by the Anti-Defamation League as a white supremacist group. The group refers to itself as the “premier MMA (mixed martial arts) club of the alt-right,” according to the ADL.

In videos taken during the Charlottesville protests, when one counterprotester was killed after a suspected white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, RAM members are seen assaulting counterprotesters, including two women who were bloodied and choked.

Miselis holds a government security clearance as part of his work for contractor Northrop Grumman, which operates a plant in Redondo Beach, Calif., near the University of California, Los Angeles, where Miselis is enrolled in an aerospace engineering program.

Miselis denied any involvement in the Charlottesville protests when confronted at his house by PBS Frontline journalists.

“I think you got the wrong guy,” he told the reporters.

Miselis was ultimately identified by PBS Frontline and ProPublica reporters after it was determined he was involved in an earlier melee at the University of California, Berkeley last year when hundreds of Trump supporters and counterprotesters clashed, leading to 21 arrests.

Several California law enforcement officials confirmed to PBS Frontline that Miselis was involved with RAM, and social media posts linking him to the group were also discovered.

Press officials at the Defense Department, for which Northrop Grumman is a major contractor, declined to comment on Miselis's security clearance and directed questions to the company.

In response to requests for comments from The Hill, a Northrop Grumman spokesman wrote in an email that the company is "taking immediate action to look into the very serious issues raised by these reports."

"Northrop Grumman was recently made aware of alleged employee actions that are counter to our values. Northrop Grumman is absolutely committed to the highest levels of ethics and integrity in all that we do, and ensuring that our workplace reflects our values of diversity and inclusion," spokesman Tim Paynter said in an email.

"We do not tolerate hatred or illegal conduct and we condemn racist activities in any shape or form," the email continued.