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tv   Frontline  PBS  August 7, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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>> narrator: tonight... >> you will not replace us! >> narrator: after charlottesville... >> is your sense that there's new energy joining these movements? >> it's probably the most active in my career. >> narrator: frontline and mppropublica reporter ac tn investigat >> i wanted to talalk to you abr what you wdoing in charlottesville last year. >> narrar: who was behind the violent rally? >> there'sideo of you launching yourself into that crowd. >> you could feel how angryey there but also how happy they were to be intimidating people like this and it was just thisappy rage. >> we're down to die for this man. narrator: and uncover a
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network across america that goes beyond charlottesville. >> yeah we think he's serving in the marines now. >> narrator: tonight on frontline, the first film of a continuing series, "domenting hate: charlottesville." ou frontline is made possible by contributions topbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information is available at the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at ford additional support is provided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in the park foun, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical sues. the john and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy
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journalism that informs and inspires. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. and additional support from laura debonis and ott nathan. ♪ ♪ >> you will not replace us! uu will not replace us! you will not repla you will not replace us! >> a.c. thompson: charlottesville, virginia, august 12, 2017.
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i'd been traing hate crimes since the presidential campaign, and i could see that something was happening in this country. the charlottesville rally was supposed to be about a confederatmonument, but anyone who was paying attention couldth seat it was about more than a sing statue. (shouting) it felt like a national reckoning around race was coming. (shouting, chanting) and being here would hp me understand it. (shouting, repetitive banging) i came here to ask questions, t but as day unraveled into chaos around me, one thing became clear: this was not a place to listen or underand. charlottesville was a crime
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scene. (shouting, screaming) >> medic >> medics! >> medics! ♪ ♪ a >> thompson: iived in charlottesville for what would become the largest gathering of white supremacists in a generation. they called it unite the right, and it was drawing individuals from at least 35 states.
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>> good afternoon. i'm chief thomas, charlottesville police department. we will have a snificant police presence throughout the weekend-- well over a hundred officers from my agey, several hundred officers from the virginia state police. w e informed that the national guard is monitoring the tuation. >> thompson: the day before the rally, a few reporters gatheredi hr the press conference. but i'd begun toear from other sources in charlottesville. >> we have timfor one more question. >> thompson: chief, we're hearing rumors of there beinghe antorch-light march tonight, an unpermitted march. do you have any information about that? >> i've heard the same rumors,t don't have a lot of details. what have you heard? where is it going to take placet in theor the county? >> thompson: we've been hearing 5:00 or 6:00. >> where at?n: >> thompot far from here is what we've been hearing. the police had heard the same rumors i had, but the university grounds were quiet and it seemed like the march might not be happening after all.
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until suddenly, the torches appeared. >> you will not replace us! you will not replace us! r you will nlace us! you will not replace us! you will not replace us! >> thompson: in a matter of moments, hundreds of neo-nis and white supremacists assembled and marched on the university. a the poliived on the scene, but watched from the sidelines as a small group of anti-racist activists were quickly surrounded. one of them-- emily gorcenski-- was streaming it from her phone. >> we are penned in. we are surrounded on all sides by hundreds of nazis. we have no way out. >>hite lives matter!
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white lives matter! >> white lives matter!li whitves matter! (shouting) >> (bleep) >> i got punched. i got kicked. i remember getting hit in the head. i thought it was with a torch. i stepped forward at one point and i got shoved back. i thought i was going to die. the thing that i was thinking as the melee was happening was, "i just need to keep the camera going." you know, thatas the only thing that i could do. yeah, it was like a hundred a ople beating up likell group of us and small group of students. >> thompson: ten or ple? >> yeah. you could feel how angry they were, but also how happy they were, you know, to be doing b this, intimidating people like this, and this happy rage. >> thompson: had you ever seen that displayed before? >> no, never in my life.ri they were ch, they were
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running through the streets, yelling at people. ay and theylked got away with it. they're coming in here the next day ready to do more. i thought like, "he we go. yeah, here we go." (police radio chatter) >> thompson: the morning after the torchlight march i walked into town with a group of clergy.g) ishantin the white supremts who'd beaten people the night before were returning. and anti-fascist counter-protesters were arriving to challenge them. >> ♪ no hate, no fear white supremacists not welco here. ♪ >> ♪ no hate, no fear (shouting) >> no kkk, no fascists! >> thompson: at 10:15 a melee erupte (shouting, screaming)
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a group of white supremacists-- some with their hands taped up like boxers-- puncd, kicked,ok and ched people who tried toth block thei, leaving thembl oodied on the pavement. >> thompson: just want to let you know there's been all kinds of crazy violence over here. pepper spray, people beating each other with we're tro figure out if the police are going to intervene to stop that or if it just going to keep goin on. >> well, we' all got different assignments to try to maintain some sort of order here, soth 's what we're focusing on right now. >> thompson: hundreds of people had shown up to protest the white supremacists. w moe non-violent, but some-- black-clamilitant anti-fascists-- had come to fight. and while policeooked on, the crowd grew more aggressive. (shouting) >> go ahead (bleep), i'm tellin' you, i'll shoot yo (shouting) go ahead, you want to play that way, i'll play iee >> (blp) (shouting)
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>> thoson: a group of white supremacists formed up with shields and clubs and pushed straight into the protesters. (shouting) o sof them fought back, but no one was rested, and the violence continued to escate. at about noon, a group of white supremacists cornered protestor deandre harris in a parking garage next to police station. they beat him with pes, metal pipes, and wooden boards. >> thompson: police did not intervene to break iup. then at 1:45 the brawling turnei into som else-- an act of terror.
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(screaming, shouting) prgrey dodge slammed into a crowd of otesters. 20 people were rushed to the hospital 32-year-old heather heyer was pronounced dead. >> i always wondered, "was she afraid? (exhales) did she see him coming?" she was deaf in one ear, so, um.. damn it, i wasn't going to cry. (sighs) she had planned on not going. s but wh saw videos from friday night, she said, "i have
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to go." and... when you drive through charlottesville now and see that peaceful little downtown it's ally, really hard to imagine. even seeing the videost's surreal. i get cold chills every time i'n he parking garage and have to walk past where dre was beat up. that's just insane, right there by t police station, the police standing right there. >> thompson: for you, what is justice for heather look like? >> ion't know. i n't know that you could ever call it justice for heather. nothing's gonna bring heather back. those of us who miss her, miss her... forever. her best friend said, "you know,
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it's kinda weird. i'll get to be an old man and she'll always have been 32." you know, life goes on. i'm getting older... 's just weird. life is very different. (soft chuckle) >> thompson: jameslex fields is the person who's been prosecuted for heather's murder. in your mind, is he the only person who should be held accountable? >> no. for people from 35 states to come in to fight, that's absolutely absurd. >> you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. nobody wan to say that, but i'll say it right now. we condemn in the strongest possible ter this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many
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sides. >> it was really something else to see. this news conference, bill, encapsulated the president's thinking, s reasoning and frankly his frustration over the events that took place overn the weekenharlottesville. >> he defended his initial o mments and says there is plenty of blame toound on both sides. specifically hmentioned what he called the "alt-left." c excuse me, what about the alt-left that carging at the, as you say, the alt-right? do ty have any semblance of guilt? >> today david duke, the former grand wizard of the kkk, tweeted this. >> grateful to the president for his words today. >> "thank you president trump for your honesty and courageo ll the truth about charlottesville and condemn th leftist terrorists in blackve matter/antifa." >> here in charlottesville one white nationalist told us the president has helped the >> he's open up a door, his movement has opened up a door, but it's up to us to take the initiative.
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>> thompson: president trump's comments sparked national outrage. while white supremacist leaders praised the president's words, they angered many here in charlottesville, including the city's mayor at the time, democrat mike signer. >> groups that previously had been stuck in the shadows and at the margins and at the extremes are brought into the mainstream and that's why they felt welcome to try and "unite the right" in charlottesville. and at the end of the day it's a city of, you know, just under 50,000 people and we were, we were in this, we were this target for forces much bigger than >> tho you are the jewish mayor of small southern town. i imagine you've gotten a lot of trling and a lot of harassment. >> oh, yeah, hundreds of mssages on twitter, mail house. a cartoon of robert e. lee pressinghe green button on a gas chamber where my face had been photoshopped into iwith
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a star of david on my lapel in t reference confederate statue issue here in charlottesville. >> thompson: i saw you that night over at the county government headquarters and you looked stricken. >> stricken isot a bad word for it. i wish that we had known more. i wish that we had been given more information by the, by the state intelligence apparatus. >> thompson: did they say anything like, "hey, theseuys are going to come with clubs, they're going to come with pepper spray, they're going to come with, you know, implement of violence"? >> no. we had one briefing with three members of the virginia state police who came and talked to us on city council. they did not present us with any evidence of a credible threat. >> thompson: as i understand ite aboupeople altogether have been prosecuted from those days, does thasound accurate to you? >> isounds like it should be lot higher. ♪
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>> thompson: unite the right was a watershed moment for the white supremacist movement. groups that had been isolated on the margins for years suddenly converged out in the open. ♪ an independent report commissioned by the city said the many failures of state and local poce had produced disastrous results that day. i just want to see if there's anything the charlottesville police can say about what happened that day, and what changes might have been made going forward. charlottesville police won't talk. and the state police won't either.go your message saying that basically we should look at the facebook and twitter posts you put out, but we have questions that go beyond that. ey've charged one man for the killing of heather heyer and four for the beating of deandre harris, but if charlottesville was a crime scene, then most of
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the criminals had gotten away. like i said, i'm just trying to figure out how many folks have been prosecuted and how many cases might still be in the pipeline. i wasn't getting any answers in charlottesvi i set off on my own. ♪ se who were the white supremacists who had descendedte on charlsville? s d why did the authoritieem so unprepared? ♪ i arrive in new york to meetth a retired fbi agent, a man who infiltrated neo-nazi groups during the 1990s. this is from charlottesville. >> mike german tracked the violence in charttesville as it unfolded. >> this is when the police should be there and they aren't. and not even in view. i mean you can't en see
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somebody close by. i mean it's one thing to, okay, watch these guys trade some punches and then follow them asr they sepe and grab them. >> thompson: right. >> they weren't even doing thatt or lm go home but then pick them up. because you can entify them pretty easily. anwhat's interesting about charlottesville is that it was that it was after almost two years of increasing violence at these protests. (shouting) ah there was eim... ♪ sacramento... (shouting) the first berkeley protest in 2017. the huntington beachrotest. (crowd chanting "u.s.a.") t the second berkeley protwas even more violent.e fifth, sixta series.d i coule from my office here in n york city how this was
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building. this was not just predictable but predicted. i couldn't believe that there wasn't better intelligence being provided by the federal government, by the fbi and department of homeland secury, particularly when people are coming in from out oe, they should be warning them. these are people who engaged in violence in rkeley. these are people who engaged ine violenn huntington beach. where was the fbi? unless the fbi too has just abandoned this ground, which i uld find even more shocking. a thompson: and your sort of sense is like if yow folks to go out and act very violently over and over and over again in these politicaspaces then they basically start to think, "hey, the cops are okay with us." >> right, "they're going to protect me coming in, let me do it and then protect me going out." now that these groups feel that ney have some state sanct for that, they are going to be a lot more dangerous in the coming years. ♪ >> thompson: "where was the
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edfbi?" mike german wonder they hadssued warnings about white supremacy violence before charlottesville, but those warnings have failed to stop the oodshed. no one from the bureau will sit down with me, but they send me a statement. the fbi said while it doesn't police ideology, it has longst inated white supremacy extremists and it will enforce the rule of (keybod clicking) ♪ stabbings, shootings, beatings at rally after rally leading up to charlottesville, i see the aces again and again. one face stands out to me. i first notice him at a pro-trump rally in huntington beach, ande surfaces again at other rallies where he's treated like a leader. after he's briefly detained by
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policei'm finally able to identify him. robert rundo is based in california now, but his rap sheet begins back east. that's where he led a small street gang in queens,ew york, called the original flushing crew. the queens d.a. shares rundo's file with me. rundo's flushing crew wasn't racist and included a tino members. they got into a bloody feud with the infamous street gang ms-13. (engine revving) within ms-13 rundo was known as "el diablo blanco." in 200 he was filmed by surveillance cameras in front of this corner store.
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rundo's crew can be seen chasing members of ms-13. rundo stabs one of them. his victim falls as he tries to escape, and rundo stabs him six more times. rundo's graffiti remains on sidewalks he, but he's gone. he was sentenced to two years in prison for gang assault and sent upstate. after his release, he moved to orange county, california. the neat rows of sun-bleached homes here look li a vision of suburban utopia. but orange county has always had a darker side. >> this is actually a klan robe.
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the guy was the grand dragon of the imperial klans of america. >> thompson: so kind of like sergeant's stripes or somethin >> yeah, like that, but he's like in charge. he ran this whole chapter in the whole region. >> thompson: lowell smith was an orange county probation officer for 26 years. for much of hicareer, he worked exclusively with white supremacists. so the guy we're looking at, rob rundo, he has this tattooed on his back. can you explain the siificance? >> well the totenkopf is primarily found what we see with o-nazi organizations. back in the day started off with adolf hler, with the gestapo and some of the nazi secret police. >> thompson: wow. so this is a thing that, that i've been trying to understand.o rundo, he grows up in queens, new york. a heember of kind of a multi-cultural gang. he goes upstate to new york state prison. and by the time he gets out of
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new york state prison, he is definitely on the path to being a neo-nazi or a whitepr acist. >> there is a lot of hate within the prison system. there's a lot of assaults, fights, racial fights. so they go in there and they separate by race for protection. so for these guys to be protected, they got to be allied for protection with hardcore o olent skinheads. then they go oute streets, ney're ideologically motivated. >> thompson: so itot surprising to you? >> it doesn't surprise me at y l, no. over time, especiathin the last year or so couple of years, i've seen this whole white supremacy becoming more emboldened. >> thompson: just in the last couple of years? >> yeah. p itbably most active in my history, in my career. >> thompson: so in almost 30 years? >> yh, and a little bit different too because you're seeing mainstream that you wouldn't suspect. u're seeing college kids becoming emboldened in this movement. >> thompson: so moving out of a the subcultu moving into the mainstream of american life> right. it worries me a lot.
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yeah, i'm, i'm really concerned. i am afraid charlottesville could happen again and be a lot worse. ♪ >> thompson: smith says a new generation of white supremacists are pushing their litics into the mainstream. rob rundo seems to be pa that trend. his group's first public appearance wasn't at a torch march, it was in huntington p beach at a-trump rally behind a banner that read "defend america." (crowd chanting) when ai-fascists showed up, rundo and his crew attacked them. he pinned one of them on the ground and pummeled him. (people shouting) onmember of his crew also attacked frank tristan, a journalist with orange county's alternative weekly paper. at the time did you know that this was a group, or who did this, or what was going on? >> no. i definitely saw they were organized. they stuck as a group, you know, also the banne
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when we got back to the office and i started talking to gustavo about everything, he started having me go out and look foryb evy there who was attacking people. (keys clicking) i started going through hashtags so like #magamarch. >> thompson: that's you! >> yeah, right there. so i start finding pictures like this. >> thompson: so is this him hitting you or is that later? >> so this is right after he had just hit me. when i clicked on his name, ite took mto his profile. >> thompson: and you look at his pictures there and you say, "oh, that's the dude who at me." >> there you go. >> i said, "okay, if we're going to tell this story that actually there were white supremacists there, we need to get everything right.rt so sigging." ♪ then i started seeing pictures that photographers took of that maga march and i see a guy with a shaved head and a jacket and immediately i'm like, "that's a hammerskins logo." walking around openly with a hammerskins jacket. and so then he starts digging, he finds out that this guyad actually been just recently released from jail from prison for a ha crime. and that's when you know, "okay, this more than just a couple of
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ndom people. there's something much more organized." >> thompson: frank and gustavo followed a trail of social media posts and court records. their research put a name to rob rundo's group: the rise above movement, or ram. they portray themselves as patriotic nationalists. but the members' facebook posts are full of anti-semitic and cist imagery. they also appear in photos and videos training with the largest nazi skinhead gang in america-- the hammerskins. >> so you got a hammerskin here. nging out, they're doing their fight training with the rise above movement. >>'ro they're, they're, theye training and they're not 'sentifying separately, itll under the same moniker. >> thompson: so basically, you have like a newhite supremacist group kind of absorbing the old guard. >> yes. >> thompson: and the old guard being known as being hyper-violent. >> oh yeah. >> thompson: so what happened with these guys in the weeks and months after the march and the attack at huntington bea?
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where did they go? >> they started getting more prominent. they started getting more well-known and more celebrated. >> and they started becoming ighters.with other alt they were becoming heroes. >> oh, check it out,anyone wants to know, this is what we're about, it's rise above movement. we were at berkeley, at huntington, now e here. >> that's right. t >>mpson: in the months after their emergence at the huntington beach trump rally, the rise above movement's soci media following swelled. by the time of thee charlottesvilly, they'd gained a national reputation as white supremacist street fighters. ♪ t there were a couple of guys in these few sho weren't able to identify. i wonder who he is. h 'caulooks like he's part of ram. >> thompson: oh yeah, he's definitely a ram person. >> he's definitely dressed in the whole thing. t mpson: but i don't think we know his name, no. i know rob rundo is the leader of ram.
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ded by examining online vios and court documents, i'm able to identify several more ram members. >> so there's this guy who i don't... i don't know if you guys know who he is now. o >> thompsoy, so leave that on him. and then come over to this video to the charlottesville. ac oh yeah. >> thompson: onelooks familiar, and i quickly realizee wher seen him before. he monched in charlottesville august 12, his hands taped up for a fight. oh look,e's got his right hand taped up. >> right hand. >> thompso i wonder if his left hand is as well. >> sure we can see... oh yeah, he has both here. so this is him. >> thompson: they're the same person. >> yeah. >> thompson: the ram member can clearly be seen attacking people il the calornia rallies. and in charlottesv he participates in one of the morning's first fights, beranning the escalating spil of violence. but whoever he, is i can't identify him.
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using clues from ram's propaganda videos, i manage to locate one of their ng spots. just off the 405 outside of irvine, we find ram's graffiti etags hidden inside drain tunnels. >> traditionally when you looked at white supremacistraffiti, it tended to be the opposite of this. so not the flowery letters that's associated more with the hip hop culture. white supremacist graffiti traditionally tended to be more just like narrow letters just like the lettering the >> thompson: i'm guessing this is like the new york city influence, like rob rundo bringing this from queens and his upbringing here is my guess. >> i mean it looks that way. >> thompson: sociologist pete simi has studied white supremacists for dec his field research takes him inside dozens of racist groupsry
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across the cou he i'd describe them as a hybrid of sorts becausere kind of a collage in a way. you know, where they're pullinge er these different ideas and symbols and associations and kind of making their own thing. >> thompson: this is the... >> that's the life rune. >> thompson: how does it get apprriated by the white powe movement? >> it's all about white survival.o >> thompson:is is one that's been in circulation for a long time? >> yeah national alliance used it bk in the '70s. thompson: so what do you make of this? >> got the celtic cross, it's one of the most widely utized tattoos among white supremacists.s and then iteresting because you get then this phrase here, "kill your local drug dealer." which taps into what's right above-- the straight edge, the three x, the triple xs. this notion of living a clean life and being very f puritanical almost. >> thompson: right. >> it felt like they were doing like a vigilante type work. they're cleaning up the streets.
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>> thompson: like the white supremacis who came before them, simi says that ram members present themselves as defenders of traditional white culture. we visit marblehead park in san clemente, where they film training videos that celebrate personal fitness, thior spirit and political street fighting. ♪ >> what they're trying to sell this idea that we need to go back to a moreraditional time, you know, traditional masculinity. whenhey blend in these fight scenes, that's also this idea of being not only just fit and living a pure life but also being a warrior of sorts. so you could imagine a, you know, 16-, 1year-old white male watching these videos and
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being somewhat moved by them or attracted to them in some case. >> thompson: it looks like it's a small group, it's a fringe group. why are they important? and at do you think? >> well, first, you know, the first thing is we just want to strictlyalk about violence. small groups can do as much if not more destruction than large groups. you have, for instance, the oklahomaity bombing. a relatively small group there that, you know, ultimately pulled off, at the time, thet largt of domestic terrorism prior to 9/11. so you know an act of violence can certainly be committed by a small fringe group. >> thompso by a small group. >> and then i think, yeah, they might be kind of a small fringe group, but the best, most sophisticated white supremacist is the one who appears the least visible. they'rnot out there wearing uniforms that are going to be really visible. they're not getting tattoos all over their face. you know, they're blending in, in a lot of different ways, including the issues they're concerned about. the issue of immigration, which has been a real hot button issue. white supremacists can seize on that issue and say, "look,
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there's an invasion and that america is under siege." then they have the potential to recruit among a much broader swath of the population than we often are willing to admit or recognize. ♪ >> thompson: a couple months after charlottesville, i had enough to publish a story and video about the group, naming rob rundo and several other members. i later hear from several law enforcement agencies, including the fbi. they won't talk on the record, but they say they've opened an investigation into rundo'sou i want to talk to i go l for him, and learn that he's in europe networking with extremists there. and i still can't identify that ram member in the charlottesville photos-- the one wearing th"make america great again" hat and punching people in the face. then i get a tip from a local cop. e man's name is michael miselis.
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miselis doesn't have a criminal record. he's a phd candidate at ucla and holds a government-issuedse curity clearance for his job at the massive defense contractor northrogrumman. hey mike, how you doing? a.c. thompson, "propublica" and "frontline wanted to talk about what youoi were d in charlottesville last year. >> uh, sorry, i don't know t, man.g about t >> thompson: but you were there, you're on camera, you're on photos. >> no, i, i think you got the wrong guy. >> thompson: hey, do northrop and ucla know you're involved with the rise above movement? >> gotta go, man. >> thompson: we identify michaef miselis ollow-up story. anthe next day, northrop grumman announces its taken
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action, and miselis is no longer an employee. ♪ >> in new york city, an army veteran, who police an admitted white supremacist, has been charged with murder as a hate crime. >> portland poli say late yesterday afternoon three men were stabbed by a man yelling ethnic and religious slurs. >> thompson: over the course of v reporting, i've seen a wave of white supremacilence hit the country. >> the brutal killing was motivated by prejudice after police found urbanski belongs to facebook group "alt-reich nation." (keys clacking) p >> thompsoice departments across the country have reported a steep rise in hate crimes. the fbi says that hate crimes have hit a five-year high.
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one case draws my attention. >> prosecutors say samuel woodward took bernstein to a park and killed him th a knife. >> bernstein was found with more than 20 stab wounds. d >> twenty-year-old woodws the last person to have seen the pre-med student while he was home for winter brea >> do you think your son could have been targeted because he was jewish?bs >>utely. he was also a gay man. wi thompson: samuel woodward hasn't been charge a hate crime, but the case seems worth investigating. and it took place backn orange county, california. i've been looking at this guy samuel woodwar the man accused of killing blaze bernstein in this park. y at first i thoug have a gay jewish college student stabbed to death. maybe this is a hate crime. what do you know aboutard? >> woodward was a teenager, grew up in luxury newport beach, so
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that's the old money of orange county. his family were very devout catholics. they went to one of the wealthiest parishes in orange county, our lady queen o angels. conservative catholic parish right there. >> thompso you've been tracking white supremacist hooups for many years now. was woodward a guyas on your radar? do you know of him to have been involved with anlong-term o.c. groups? >> nothing. you have volksfront here, you have hammerskins. i knew the traditional neo-nazi groups. i had no idea of who this guy was. >> thompson: woodward didn'tse to be on anybody's radar here and he didn't appear to be part of any local white supremacist group. his alleged crime was vicious, but it wasn't cleato me that he was even part of my story. >> anything else the court needs to address obehalf of the people? >> no. >> thompson: sam woodward betrays no emotion at his court hearing. (cameras clicking)ty. defendant is "woodward." >> okay, go ahead and write that.
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i pull woodward's court file,e but there ecious few details in it. there's also not much be learned from his schoolmates. t ey describe him as an introvert, and iseems like most of his life took plac online. orange county is starting to feel like a dead end then i hear from a journalist, jake hanrahan, who gives me photos of an anonymous twitter account showing sam woodward doing paramilitary training wito a neo-nazi gup called atomwaffen division. my colleue ali winston manages to make contact with the person who posted the photos. he's a former atomwaffen member and he poi to another member who uses the online handle "ted bundy." we trace him back to hisou parents' h in a d.c. suburb, a neighborhood favored by
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members of the intelligence community. he uses nazi imagery on his p facebookage, posts selfies edth guns, and i've obtain photos placing him in charlottesville. (dog barking) so i'm a reporter with "propublica" and pbs "frontline," and we're working on a documentary about the new neo-nazis. this is a nazi emblem, the black sun, this is a t-shirt put out by the group atoaffen. his father will neither confirm nor deny that the pictures on his son's facebook r page aeal. but the ne day i get a call from his family. they say he left the group.
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that it was too extreme for him and he hasn't had anything to do with it for months. i think you should be aware that one of the people in the group that he was involved with is currently facing charges for killing a gay jewish college s student thern california. their story is difficult to verify. atomwaffen is obsessed with secrecy, communicating through enypted text messages, and private chats using a service called discord. 50e former atomwaffen member sends us logs of 2,000 messages shared amongst the group. ted bundy is in the logs, and so is sam woodward. but something unexpected catches my eye and i have to g to charlottesville. at the torch march last august,
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emily gorcenski had beenas ulted while she livestreamed the confrontation. we'd traded information, but there were new details in the atomwaffen discord logs. you were sending me messages when i was in california. and i think you and i were both wondering if it was the rise above movement that came after you on the night of the 11th. then my colleagues and i got the chat logs for atomwaffen, this like much more extreme neo-nazi group. and this guy is talking about unite the right and he's reporting back to his fellow nazis and he says, "just got in a fight. ksif you see a guy in a trt, that's me. i dropkicked emily gorcenski." >> thompson: this guy describes kicking you by name with your full name. we think this guy in the track suit, it's this guy, vasilli pistolis. he's arivate first class in the u.s. marine corps. i
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ean that's, that's unbelievable. so there is somebody with a tracksuit. we have a photo of him. and if wlook, we can see him back here. the guy in the adidas tracksuit. >> thompson: that's the guy. >> this is the guy. and then he comes running in from the back. does a flying dropkick. yeah, and he doesn't hit me because the person he hits is a few feet over to my right. buhe definitely does come and launch himself at people. and that's kind of what kicked off the whole >> thompn: and that's where things got crazy. >> yeah, the melee, yeah >> thompson: if you look at this picture i think it's got to be the same guy. >> oh, that's him. yeah. i meanook at the haircut; that hairline is super distinctive. >> thompson: yeah he's got like the total widow's peak. so at the same time he would have been attacking people, hed wove been working for the u.s. government, serving in the marine ♪
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the military bans membership in racist groups, and the pentagonu icly condemned the violence in charlottesville. tobut while reporting on ps, i get an email from a marine veteran. >> shortly after unite the right, a friend of mine cameac ss a comment by pistolis on facebook and immediately clicked through to his profile and realized this kid's an active ryty marine and you can't be a nazi in the mili ee she sent the shot my way because she knew i had served and she thought maybe i woulbe able to get in contact with his command. ve>> thompson: ed beck sera tour in iraq where he'd been assigned to the 2nd marine logistics group-- the same command pistolis serves in at camp lejeune.
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>> after i was first alerted to pistolis i started searching and just came across other websites that he had been posting on for years-- white supremacist content, racist content, anti-semitic content. >> thompson: beck had seen the same footage i had of pistolis the torch march. and he collected video from charlottesville i'd neveseen. >> he had posted a photo of his costume that he was preparing for unite the right. >>hompson: so it's the punisher baseball cap. >> the punisher cap, the flag, the mask which he ended not using. i started digging into photos and videos.yo can see pistolis on the side. >> thompson: right. >> he turns and startsad ncing. and he gets ready... to swing. >> thompson: he was... everywhere in these images. >> right in the middle of it. and here's one shot of him attacking. >> thompson: oh wow! i had not seen this. this is insane. >> there are multiple videospi showstolis attacking. >> thompson: wow.
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he's hitting the guy on the ground, right?ht >> rig >> thompson: it's vicious. >> but there were at least a half dozen videos that captured s attack on saturday. >> thompson: what made you finally decide, like, "i have enough information here to call law enforcement"? >> pistolis popped up at the white lives matter rally in shelbyville, tennessee. that night a neo-nazi group assaulted an interracial couple. >> thompson: there's pistolis. >> there's pistolis. the nashville police were looking for witnesses. h this point i realized iad to report him. i called the military police atl caeune. i told them i haevidence that he had been a nazi for years and that he had assaulted multiple people at unite the right in charlottesville. >> thompson: and you said this ne call.he p >> i said this all on the phone call. >> thompson: and what happened? >> he said he'd send it up chain and they might be in touch. and i never heard back. ♪
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>> thompson: i speak to the marine corps several times. they td me they'd opened an investigation into pistolis but it came to nothing. i made contact with pistolis over email, but he denied even being in charlottesville. he tel me to call him. hey, it's a.c. is this vasilios? >> thompson: i know that you told me that you weren't in charlottesville, but i have found photos of you there, and messages in different discord chats where you're talking about assaulting people and assaulting emily gorcenski. >> hompson: yeah, but there's photos of you there.
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>> thompson: i guess that's it.n yo, you say you weren't in charlottesville. you're starting new. you don't want to talk. >> thompson: there's video, man, of you there you know, there's video of you launching yourself into that crowd. doesn't seem like a joke. it doesn't seem like (bleep) posting. seems like something el entirely.
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>> thompson: okay. all right, m. ♪ we published stories on pistolis that reveal his identity and his acts in charlottesville. ♪ ur in response to oeporting, congressman keith ellison issues a formal letter to secretary of defense, james mattis. ellison asks him to look intond the case a the presence of whe supremacists in the military. have you heard anything from the marine corps or from naval criminal investigative services sbout this? >> no, we heard about it from
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"problica." we wrote in about it because we're concerned about it. >> thompso what are you hoping to get out of that letter? >> well, you know, look, we've seen people, military leaders ih past actually change policy and we've seen them make some strong statements. i think this is a crit. because i think what trump has actually done is given the opposite message. the reality is is that any time you get a whole bunch of these young white extremists carrying tiki torches with no masks on, through a public street, they're telling you, "we're not worried." >> thompson: "we're not afraid." >> "we're not afraid, we're going to just do this." that is why it's critically important to be very clear about the unacceptability of any extremists, including these whitsupremacist extremists acquiring the best military training in the world. because if somebody like pistolis gets the training and es it, who's he gonna use it on? maybe his fellow soldiers, maybe his fellow americans. one thing we can do is to shine
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a light on this. because when we get some light on it, then somebody somewhe is gonna say, "okay, this needs to become a priority."ha and sos what we're going to do. rsaryompson: as the anni of charlottesville draws near, the u.s. attorney's office in virginia tells us they're pursuing a criminal prosecution. it seems like federal prosecutors are closing in on some of thsame people i've been investigating. in orange county, the secret life of sam woodward that we discovered has caught up with him. prosecutors have now charged him with a hate crime. for their part, the marines court martialed vasilios stolis and ousted him from the corps. but the movement that violently erupted the streets of charlottesville hasn't gone away. our source iide atomwaffen says the group has been addingmb
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s, and that pistolis is not the only soldier in its ranks. this story is far from ove >> coming this fall, part 2 of "documenting hate-- new american nazis." >> so what do you want to have ?ome out of this weeke what do you want to accomplish? >> go for our latest reporting with and sendmation about hate crimes to frontline, propublica and our partners in the documenting hate project. >> i've seen this whole white supremacy thing becoming more emboldened. >> just in the last couple years?>> eah, it's probably the most active in my history, in my career. >> then visit our films page where you can watch over 200 frontline documentaries. connect to the frontline mmunity on facebook and twitter.n then sig for our newsletter >> erdbrink: once upon a time on
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a dusty road, i met a girl. (girl laughing) >> erdbrink: 17 years later, i'm still here. >> thomas erdbnk welcome to the program. >> narrator: from a country where nothing is allowed. but, everything is possible. stories from the inside... >> in this country especially if you live with fear, you're done. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation foric puroadcastg. major support is provided by the john d. and catherine macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information is available at the ford foundation,ng with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at ford additional support is provided by the abrams foundation, committed to excellence in
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journalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. and by the frontline journalism fund, th major support from jon and jo ann hagler. and additional support froman laura deboniscott nathan. captioned by media access group at wgbh hi >> for more onand other frontline programs, visit our website at ♪ "frontline's" "documenting hate: charlottesville" is available on dvd. to order, visit or call 1-800-play-pbs.
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"frontline" is also availablelo for do on itunes. ♪ >> you're watching pbs. >> frontline brings you breakthrough journalism, crucial answers, and stories you can't ignore. >> ♪ and way down we go
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- [carlos] from a young age roxane gay was writing stories. but overears, she developed her skills beyond just storytelling. her voice became a battle cry that helped jump-start a modern-day femist movement. - please welcome roxane gay. (audience applauding) - [carlos] but how did this quiet child of haitian immigrants turn her own harsh path through life into a spot at the top of all the best-sellers lists... - time magazine declared 2014 the year of roxane gay. - [carlos] and on a journey towards breaking big." (audience applauding) what makes people successful? what are the unexpected turns in life that propel people to greatness? (dramatic music) i'm carlos watso


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