Documenting Hate: Charlottesville (full film) | FRONTLINE

Documenting Hate: Charlottesville (full film) | FRONTLINE

>>NARRATOR: Tonight… >>You will not replace us…>>NARRATOR: First Charlottesville, then Pittsburgh.>>…he’s got an automatic weapon…>>…multiple casualties inside the synagogue…>>Is your sense that there’s new energy, joining these movements?>>It’s probably the most active in my career.>>NARRATOR: Frontline and ProPublica Reporter, A.C. Thompson investigate…>>Wanted to talk to you about what you were doing in Charlottesville last year?>>NARRATOR: Who was behind the violent rally?>>There’s video of you launching yourself into that crowd.>>You could feel how angry they were, but also how happy they were to be intimidating people like this, and it was just this happy rage.>>We’re down to die for this man.>>NARRATOR: And uncover a network of white supremicists across America.>>Yeah we think he’s serving in the Marines now. >>…the news orginization ProPublica…>>NARRATOR: Tonight on Frontline, the film that led to a wave of prosecutions━ “Documenting Hate: Charlottesville”. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪>>You will not replace us! You will not replace us! You will not replace us! You will not replace us!>>A.C. THOMPSON: Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017. I’d been tracking 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 Confederate monument, but anyone who was paying attention could see that it was about more than a single statue. (shouting) It felt like a national reckoning around race was coming. (shouting, chanting) And being here would help me understand it. (shouting, repetitive banging) I came here to ask questions, but as the day unraveled into chaos around me, one thing became clear: this was not a place to listen or understand. Charlottesville was a crime scene. (shouting, screaming)>>Medics!>>Medics!>>Medics! ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪>>THOMPSON: I arrived 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.>>Good afternoon. I’m Chief Thomas, Charlottesville Police Department. We will have a significant police presence throughout the weekend– well over a hundred officers from my agency, several hundred officers from the Virginia State Police. We were informed that the National Guard is monitoring the situation.>>THOMPSON: The day before the rally, a few reporters gathered for the police press conference. But I’d begun to hear from other sources in Charlottesville.>>We have time for one more question.>>THOMPSON: Chief, we’re hearing rumors of there being another torch-light march tonight, an unpermitted march. Do you have any information about that?>>I’ve heard the same rumors, but I don’t have a lot of details. What have you heard? Where is it going to take place? In the city or the county?>>THOMPSON: We’ve been hearing 5:00 or 6:00.>>Where at?>>THOMPSON: Not 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. Until suddenly, the torches appeared.>>You will not replace us! You will not replace us! You will not replace us! You will not replace us! You will not replace us!>>THOMPSON: In a matter of moments, hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists assembled and marched on the university. The police arrived 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.>>White lives matter! White lives matter!>>White lives matter! White lives 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, that was the only thing that I could do. Yeah, it was like a hundred people beating up like a small group of us and a small group of students.>>THOMPSON: Ten or 15 people?>>Yeah. You could feel how angry they were, but also how happy they were, you know, to be doing this, to be intimidating people like this, and this happy rage.>>THOMPSON: Had you ever seen that displayed before?>>No, never in my life. They were cheering, they were running through the streets, yelling at people. And they walked away and they got away with it. They’re coming in here the next day ready to do more. I thought like, “Here 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. (chanting) The white supremacists 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 welcome here. ♪>>♪ No hate, no fear ♪ (shouting)>>No KKK, no fascists!>>THOMPSON: At 10:15 a melee erupted. (shouting, screaming) A group of white supremacists– some with their hands taped up like boxers– punched, kicked, and choked people who tried to block their path, leaving them bloodied 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 sticks. We’re trying to figure out if the police are going to intervene to stop that or if it’s just going to keep going on.>>Well, we’ve all got different assignments to try to maintain some sort of order here, so that’s what we’re focusing on right now.>>THOMPSON: Hundreds of people had shown up to protest the white supremacists. Most were non-violent, but some– black-clad militant anti-fascists– had come to fight. And while police looked on, the crowd grew more aggressive. (shouting)>>Go ahead (bleep), I’m tellin’ you, I’ll shoot you! (shouting) Go ahead, you want to play that way, I’ll play it.>>(bleep) (shouting)>>THOMPSON: A group of white supremacists formed up with shields and clubs and pushed straight into the protesters. (shouting) Some of them fought back, but no one was arrested, and the violence continued to escalate. At about noon, a group of white supremacists cornered protestor Deandre Harris in a parking garage next to a police station. They beat him with poles, metal pipes, and wooden boards.>>THOMPSON: Police did not intervene to break it up. Then at 1:45 the brawling turned into something else– an act of terror. (screaming, shouting) A grey Dodge slammed into a crowd of protesters. 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. But when she saw videos from Friday night, she said, “I have to go.” And… When you drive through Charlottesville now and see that peaceful little downtown it’s really, really hard to imagine. Even seeing the videos it’s surreal. I get cold chills every time I’m in the parking garage and have to walk past where Dre was beat up. That’s just insane, right there by the police station, the police standing right there.>>THOMPSON: For you, what is justice for Heather look like?>>I don’t know. I don’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, 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… It’s just weird. Life is very different. (soft chuckle)>>THOMPSON: James Alex 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 wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.>>It was really something else to see. This news conference, Bill, encapsulated the president’s thinking, his reasoning and frankly his frustration over the events that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville.>>He defended his initial comments and says there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides. Specifically he mentioned what he called the “alt-left.”>>Excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they 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 courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists in Black Lives Matter/Antifa.”>>Here in Charlottesville one white nationalist told us the president has helped them.>>He’s opened up a door, his movement has opened up a door, but it’s up to us to take the initiative.>>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 us.>>THOMPSON: You are the Jewish mayor of small Southern town. I imagine you’ve gotten a lot of trolling and a lot of harassment.>>Oh, yeah, hundreds of messages on Twitter, mail at my house. A cartoon of Robert E. Lee pressing the green button on a gas chamber where my face had been photoshopped into it with a star of David on my lapel in reference to the Confederate statue issue here in Charlottesville.>>THOMPSON: I saw you that night over at the county government headquarters and you looked stricken.>>Stricken is not 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, these guys are going to come with clubs, they’re going to come with pepper spray, they’re going to come with, you know, implements 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 it, about ten people altogether have been prosecuted from those days, does that sound accurate to you?>>It sounds like it should be a lot higher. ♪ ♪>>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 police 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. I got 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. They’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 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 Charlottesville so I set off on my own. ♪ ♪ Who were these white supremacists who had descended on Charlottesville? And why did the authorities seem so unprepared? ♪ ♪ I arrive in New York to meet with a retired FBI agent, a man who infiltrated neo-Nazi groups during the 1990s. This is from Charlottesville.>>Mike German tracked the violence in Charlottesville 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 even see somebody close by. I mean it’s one thing to, okay, watch these guys trade some punches and then follow them as they separate and grab them.>>THOMPSON: Right.>>They weren’t even doing that or let them go home but then pick them up. Because you can identify them pretty easily. And what’s interesting about Charlottesville is that it was that it was after almost two years of increasing violence at these protests. (shouting) There was Anaheim… ♪ ♪ Sacramento… (shouting) The first Berkeley protest in 2017. The Huntington Beach protest. (crowd chanting “U.S.A.”) The second Berkeley protest was even more violent. The fifth, sixth, seventh in a series. I could see from my office here in New York City how this was 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 Security, particularly when people are coming in from out of state, they should be warning them. These are people who engaged in violence in Berkeley. These are people who engaged in violence in Huntington Beach. Where was the FBI? Unless the FBI too has just abandoned this ground, which I would find even more shocking.>>THOMPSON: And your sort of sense is like if you allow folks to go out and act very violently over and over and over again in these political spaces 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 they have some state sanction for that, they are going to be a lot more dangerous in the coming years. ♪ ♪>>THOMPSON: “Where was the FBI?” Mike German wondered. They had issued warnings about white supremacy violence before Charlottesville, but those warnings have failed to stop the bloodshed. 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 long investigated white supremacy extremists and it will enforce the rule of law. (keyboard clicking) ♪ ♪ Stabbings, shootings, beatings– at rally after rally leading up to Charlottesville, I see the same faces again and again. One face stands out to me. I first notice him at a pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, and he surfaces again at other rallies where he’s treated like a leader. After he’s briefly detained by police, I’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, New 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 few Latino 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 2009, he was filmed by surveillance cameras in front of this corner store. 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 here, 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 like a vision of suburban utopia. But Orange County has always had a darker side.>>This is actually a Klan robe. The guy was the Grand Dragon of the Imperial Klans of America. The rank structure here.>>THOMPSON: So kind of like sergeant’s stripes or something?>>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 his career, 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 significance?>>Well the Totenkopf is primarily found what we see with neo-Nazi organizations. Back in the day started off with Adolf Hitler, 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. Rob Rundo, he grows up in Queens, New York. He’s a member of kind of a multi-cultural gang. He goes upstate to New York state prison. And by the time he gets out of New York state prison, he is definitely on the path to being a neo-Nazi or a white supremacist.>>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 violent skinheads. Then they go out to the streets, they’re ideologically motivated.>>THOMPSON: So it’s not surprising to you?>>It doesn’t surprise me at all, no. Over time, especially within 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. It’s probably most active in my history, in my career.>>THOMPSON: So in almost 30 years?>>Yeah, and a little bit different too because you’re seeing mainstream that you wouldn’t suspect. You’re seeing college kids becoming emboldened in this movement.>>THOMPSON: So moving out of the subculture and moving into the mainstream of American life.>>Right. It worries me a lot. 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 politics into the mainstream. Rob Rundo seems to be part of that trend. His group’s first public appearance wasn’t at a torch march, it was in Huntington Beach at a pro-Trump rally behind a banner that read “Defend America.” (crowd chanting) When anti-fascists showed up, Rundo and his crew attacked them. He pinned one of them on the ground and pummeled him. (people shouting) One member 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 banner. When we got back to the office and I started talking to Gustavo about everything, he started having me go out and look for everybody there who was attacking people. (keys clicking) I started going through hashtags. So like #MAGAMARCH.>>THOMPSON: That’s you!>>Yeah, right there. So I started 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, it took me to his profile.>>THOMPSON: And you look at his pictures there and you say, “Oh, that’s the dude who attacked 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. So start digging.” ♪ ♪ 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 guy had actually been just recently released from jail from prison for a hate crime. And that’s when you know, “Okay, this more than just a couple of random 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 racist 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. Hanging out, they’re doing their fight training with the Rise Above Movement.>>So they’re, they’re, they’re training and they’re not identifying separately, it’s all under the same moniker.>>THOMPSON: So basically, you have like a new white 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 Beach? Where did they go?>>They started getting more prominent. They started getting more well-known and more celebrated.>>And they started becoming friends with other alt-righters. They were becoming heroes.>>Oh, check it out, if anyone wants to know, this is what we’re about, it’s Rise Above Movement. We were at Berkeley, at Huntington, now we’re here.>>That’s right.>>THOMPSON: In the months after their emergence at the Huntington Beach Trump rally, the Rise Above Movement’s social media following swelled. By the time of the Charlottesville rally, they’d gained a national reputation as white supremacist street fighters. ♪ ♪>>There were a couple of guys in these few shots that we weren’t able to identify. I wonder who he is. ‘Cause he looks like he’s part of RAM.>>THOMPSON: Oh yeah, he’s definitely a RAM person.>>He’s definitely dressed in the whole thing.>>THOMPSON: But I don’t think we know his name, no. I know Rob Rundo is the leader of RAM. And by examining online videos 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.>>THOMPSON: Okay, so leave that on him. And then come over to this video to the Charlottesville.>>Oh yeah.>>THOMPSON: One face looks familiar, and I quickly realize where I’ve seen him before. He marched in Charlottesville on August 12, his hands taped up for a fight. Oh look, he’s got his right hand taped up.>>Right hand.>>THOMPSON: 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 at the California rallies. And in Charlottesville he participates in one of the morning’s first fights, beginning the escalating spiral of violence. But whoever he, is I can’t identify him. Using clues from RAM’s propaganda videos, I manage to locate one of their training spots. Just off the 405 outside of Irvine, we find RAM’s graffiti tags hidden inside drainage tunnels.>>Traditionally when you looked at white supremacist graffiti, it tended to be the opposite of this. So not the flowery large 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 there.>>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 decades. His field research takes him inside dozens of racist groups across the country.>>I’d describe them as a hybrid of sorts because they’re kind of a collage in a way. You know, where they’re pulling together 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 appropriated by the white power movement?>>It’s all about white survival.>>THOMPSON: So this is one that’s been in circulation for a long time?>>Yeah National Alliance used it back in the ’70s.>>THOMPSON: So what do you make of this?>>Got the Celtic cross, it’s one of the most widely utilized tattoos among white supremacists. And then it’s interesting 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 kind of puritanical almost.>>THOMPSON: Right.>>It felt like they were doing like a vigilante type work. They’re cleaning up the streets.>>THOMPSON: Like the white supremacists 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, the warrior spirit and political street fighting. ♪ ♪>>What they’re trying to sell is this idea that we need to go back to a more traditional time, you know, traditional masculinity. When they 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-, 17-year-old white male watching these videos and 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 what do you think?>>Well, first, you know, the first thing is we just want to strictly talk about violence. Small groups can do as much if not more destruction than large groups. You have, for instance, the Oklahoma City bombing. A relatively small group there that, you know, ultimately pulled off, at the time, the largest act of domestic terrorism prior to 9/11. So you know an act of violence can certainly be committed by a small fringe group.>>THOMPSON: 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’re not 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, 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’s group. I want to talk to Rundo. I go looking 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 the “Make America Great Again” hat and punching people in the face. Then I get a tip from a local cop. The man’s name is Michael Miselis. Miselis doesn’t have a criminal record. He’s a PHD candidate at UCLA and holds a government-issued security clearance for his job at the massive defense contractor Northrop Grumman. Hey Mike, how you doing? A.C. Thompson, “ProPublica” and “Frontline.” Wanted to talk about what you were doing in Charlottesville last year.>>Uh, sorry, I don’t know anything about that, man.>>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 Michael Miselis in a follow-up story. And the next day, Northrop Grumman announces its taken action, and Miselis is no longer an employee. ♪ ♪>>In New York City, an Army veteran, who police say is an admitted white supremacist, has been charged with murder as a hate crime.>>Portland police say late yesterday afternoon three men were stabbed by a man yelling ethnic and religious slurs.>>THOMPSON: Over the course of my reporting, I’ve seen a wave of white supremacist violence hit the country.>>The brutal killing was motivated by prejudice after police found Urbanski belongs to Facebook group “Alt-Reich Nation.” (keys clacking)>>THOMPSON: Police departments across the country have reported a steep rise in hate crimes. The FBI says that hate crimes have hit a five-year high. One case draws my attention.>>Prosecutors say Samuel Woodward took Bernstein to a park and killed him with a knife.>>Bernstein was found with more than 20 stab wounds.>>Twenty-year-old Woodward was the last person to have seen the pre-med student while he was home for winter break.>>Do you think your son could have been targeted because he was Jewish?>>Absolutely. He was also a gay man.>>THOMPSON: Samuel Woodward hasn’t been charged with a hate crime, but the case seems worth investigating. And it took place back in Orange County, California. I’ve been looking at this guy Samuel Woodward, the man accused of killing Blaze Bernstein in this park. At first I thought you have a gay Jewish college student stabbed to death. Maybe this is a hate crime. What do you know about Woodward?>>Woodward was a teenager, grew up in luxury Newport Beach, so 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 of Angels. Conservative Catholic parish right there.>>THOMPSON: You’ve been tracking white supremacist groups for many years now. Was Woodward a guy who was on your radar? Do you know of him to have been involved with any long-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’t seem 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 clear to me that he was even part of my story.>>Anything else the court needs to address on behalf of the people?>>No.>>THOMPSON: Sam Woodward betrays no emotion at his court hearing. He pleads not guilty. (cameras clicking) Defendant is “Woodward.”>>Okay, go ahead and write that. I pull Woodward’s court file, but there are precious few details in it. There’s also not much to be learned from his schoolmates. They describe him as an introvert, and it seems like most of his life took place 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 with a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division. My colleague Ali Winston manages to make contact with the person who posted the photos. He’s a former Atomwaffen member, and he points me to another member who uses the online handle “Ted Bundy.” We trace him back to his parents’ house in a D.C. suburb, a neighborhood favored by members of the intelligence community. He uses Nazi imagery on his Facebook page, posts selfies with guns, and I’ve obtained 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 Atomwaffen. His father will neither confirm nor deny that the pictures on his son’s Facebook page are real. But the next day I get a call from his family. They say he left the group. 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 student in Southern California. Their story is difficult to verify. Atomwaffen is obsessed with secrecy, communicating through encrypted text messages, and private chats using a service called Discord. The former Atomwaffen member sends us logs of 250,000 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 go back to Charlottesville. At the torch march last August, Emily Gorcenski had been assaulted 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. If you see a guy in a tracksuit, 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 a private first class in the U.S. Marine Corps.>>I mean that’s, that’s unbelievable. So there is somebody with a tracksuit. We have a photo of him. And if we look, 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. But he definitely does come in and launch himself at people. And that’s kind of what kicked off the whole group.>>THOMPSON: 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 mean look 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, he would have been working for the U.S. government, serving in the Marines. ♪ ♪ The military bans membership in racist groups, and the Pentagon publicly condemned the violence in Charlottesville. But while reporting on Pistolis, I get an email from a Marine veteran.>>Shortly after Unite the Right, a friend of mine came across a comment by Pistolis on Facebook and immediately clicked through to his profile and realized this kid’s an active duty Marine and you can’t be a Nazi in the military. She sent the screenshot my way because she knew I had served and she thought maybe I would be able to get in contact with his command.>>THOMPSON: Ed Beck served a tour in Iraq where he’d been assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group– the same command Pistolis serves in at Camp Lejeune.>>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 at the torch march. And he collected video from Charlottesville I’d never seen.>>He had posted a photo of his costume that he was preparing for Unite the Right.>>THOMPSON: So it’s the Punisher baseball cap.>>The Punisher cap, the flag, the mask which he ended up not using. I started digging into photos and videos. You can see Pistolis on the side.>>THOMPSON: Right.>>He turns and starts advancing. 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 videos showing Pistolis attacking.>>THOMPSON: Wow. He’s hitting the guy on the ground, right?>>Right.>>THOMPSON: It’s vicious.>>But there were at least a half dozen videos that captured his 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. At this point I realized I had to report him. I called the military police at Camp Lejeune. I told them I had evidence 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 all on the phone call.>>I said this all on the phone call.>>THOMPSON: And what happened?>>He said he’d send it up the chain and they might be in touch. And I never heard back. ♪ ♪>>THOMPSON: I speak to the Marine Corps several times. They told 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 tells 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.>>THOMPSON: Yeah, but there’s photos of you there.>>THOMPSON: I guess that’s it. You know, 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. It doesn’t seem like a joke. It doesn’t seem like (bleep) posting. It seems like something else entirely.>>THOMPSON: Okay. All right, man. ♪ ♪ We published stories on Pistolis that reveal his identity and his activities in Charlottesville. ♪ ♪ In response to our reporting, Congressman Keith Ellison issues a formal letter to Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. Ellison asks him to look into the case and the presence of white 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 “ProPublica.” We wrote in about it because we’re concerned about it.>>THOMPSON: What are you hoping to get out of that letter?>>Well, you know, look, we’ve seen people, military leaders in the past actually change policy and we’ve seen them make some strong statements. I think this is a critical… 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 white supremacist extremists acquiring the best military training in the world. Because if somebody like Pistolis gets the training and uses it, who’s he gonna use it on? Maybe his fellow soldiers, maybe his fellow Americans. One thing we can do is to shine a light on this. Because when we get some light on it, then somebody somewhere is gonna say, “Okay, this needs to become a priority.” And so that’s what we’re going to do.>>THOMPSON: A year after the Charlottesville rally, the U.S. attorney’s office in Virginia indicted eight RAM members or associates. Michael Miselis and Rob Rundo are amoung those charged. 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 Pistolis and ousted him from the Corps. But the movement that violently erupted in the streets of Charlottesville hasn’t gone away. Our source inside Atomwaffen says the group has been adding members, and that Pistolis is not the only soldier in its ranks. This story is far from over.>>The stock market is down 21 percent.>>NARRATOR: 10 years after the great recession.>>That took a piece of our soul.>>NARRATOR: Cities like Dayton are still struggling to come back.>>I actually worked in this same exact plant for GM. I’d say it probably averaged out around $35 an hour. At Fuyao you started out at $12 an hour.>>Dayton is not unique in the problems that we are facing. But, what is unique is that Dayton is still small enough to fix this. Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH>>Go to for our latest reporting with ProPublica about hate crimes.>>Then coming November 29th…>>I’m Raney Aronson, Executive Producer of Frontline. Our podcast, “The Frontline Dispatch”, is back for season two.>>It’s so risky. I don’t want to be walking around like this…>>I think it’s gut-wrenching that he knew that he could go out there…>>You start hearing bullets fly over your head, “Phewing!”>>Subscribe now on our website, or wherever you listen to podcasts. To order Frontline’s “Documenting Hate: Charlottesville” on DVD visit shop PBS, or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS. This program is also available on Amazon Prime video.

100 thoughts on “Documenting Hate: Charlottesville (full film) | FRONTLINE

  1. Others race are terorist in America, but White supremacy Who burn down churches with people inside, killed, destroyed steal, unhuman, are consider norma.

  2. Nothing Is for ever, they can be on top of the world for ever, their times Is almost up that is Why they are so upset, this la their last battle.

  3. The Egyptians, the Babylon, the Rome, and so many others have rules the world, but where are they today? So America would face the same consiguence, very soon no One Will Remember them again.

  4. America don't really believe in God, this is their condemn. Too much racism hate, too much violents, too much killing, too much fornications, too much everythings, if this is a land of free, l prefair living in forest.

  5. Whites are nice until they aren’t! I see a civil happening in the next century! One that will change what America looks like!

  6. AMERICA give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
    Part of the poem inscribed on the statue of liberty.
    In reality America is an experiment gone awry, and is the joke of the world!
    The only place where millions of Cultures, Religions, Colors of skin huddled on one land mass to totally annihilate each other with Guns and HATE!

  7. So much retardation and stupidity in this comment section. This is why I love watching the U.S. tear it's self apart. Where's my popcorn.

  8. Reading the commentary on here tells me it is ripen with the Antifa  / BLM  BS with naïve low IQ people tossed in. I am WHITE AND I AM NOT A RACIST SO  Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it morons .

  9. Do they report that Charlottesville was organized by Richard Kessler, who only year earlier was an Obama supporter. That the guys with torches were recruited from the drama department of the university there? Could it be that Charlottesville was created to give the Left their “proof” of white supremacy “is a problem in this country.” I wouldn’t put past Left to manufacture this event.

  10. I am Hispanic/ Native American, and I voted for Trump and support him very much! I consider myself a national socialist, what you would call a Nazi! National Socialism doesn't equate to racism or white supremacy, it doesn't mean that at all! Also, the most hateful and racist and violent people I've met the past three years, from openly supporting President Trump, are all leftist, antifa and Democrats! The vast majority of violence has come from anti-Trump leftists!

  11. Im still trying to figure out how antifa put human feces in balloons. .that they kept in coolers in the street. Oh wait you forgot that part. Deandre Harris was stalking us as we tried to leave the city. The police stood and watched the attacks. In a lawless state we had to protect ourselves but now the law matters? You are not a white supremacists or nazi for loving your own people and history.

  12. White supremacy, Black lives matter, KKK, Antifa, New World Order, Religion, Democratic Party, FBI, CIA, Government, military,Mafia, just to name a few organizations that are causing trouble just because the other one exists, stop giving attention to all of them and they’ll slowly go away, they are all bullies that think they’re being bullied. Put the energy in to something productive and the Human Race will flourish. It’s all a waist of energy and resources. I think the new organization should be THRM ( The Human Race Matters) who would we protest then. I guess Nature would come after us.

  13. RIP Heather, but what in God’s name is a 32yo doing playing protester in the streets when they should be out raising Children and really making a difference in the Word or Working at something that will help man kind or our planet. What a waist of a beautiful person over something that will change nothing except making her loved ones sad.

  14. More than half of these inbred idiots would be sent to the gas chambers in Hitler's Germany. What complete ignorant fools.


  16. No they were abandoned by the federal government when Trump took over and realized Comey was not going to partake and most of law enforcement would refuse… this is what Daniel did with the intelligence reports

  17. You can't let two hate groups come together. NEVER! This will always be the outcome! I can't believe we haven't learned this after all these years!

  18. ram ….BORED WHITE TRUST FUND JERKOF'S JUST LOOKING TO HATE. I wonder if usa will ever get on the non hate side but i dont think it will happen the country is still 1/2 neonazicommies…………

  19. The radical left initiated the violence on a lawful gathering. This is yet another wash piece from Frontline.

  20. you can't use the president for these people in their ideologies it's not right and it's unjust they are using the president that is what I hopefully hope this shows here because normally front line is straight up and truthful and if I find you're leading another way when I finish watching this I will have any faith in you as well

  21. you know he asked the question where's the FBI I can't understand why you all cannot see the FBI's not going to show up this is all so they can impeach the president the FBI isn't going to show up because the FBI wants the country to look at this like as if the president is at fault here cuz if the president is the leader of these Psychopaths the FBI wasn't even there to stop Jeffrey Epstein from killing himself because they're going to pin it all on the president from the beginning the FBI is corrupt you can't blame the United States President you blame who's behind the corruption he wants to impeach him that's who is behind all of this hate and chaos it's so obvious

  22. like I said again these guys are using the United States president to breed he doesn't support these people he doesn't want these people they're using this as their platform just as antifa is using the Socialist side for their platform they're both violent they're both evil they're both wanting war in America both groups there are innocent people on both sides that have nothing to do with anything here and that is where the media is bullying the innocent

  23. it looks like to me that both sides have protection both sides are being protected by somebody the left is being protected the murders they've conducted in the right is being protected in the white supremacy so this has nothing to do with innocent people who support the president this has everything to do with corruption on both sides

  24. the story I would like to see is ilhan Omar and who she's affiliated with people who murder children people who use children who join people to do the same just the same as the white supremacy groups are doing and we have her in our United States Congress okay so who really is doing this to our country and to the innocent people in America who really is behind the white supremacy the Isis who are United States government? That's the story Frontline you need to get into both sides on that because how dare our government and the left have a woman on our law making system who's affiliated with 911 disaster and degrades it on in public now if it was a white supremacist it have been all over the news you can't pick and choose this is America we all have a right to be here legally rightfully there has to be laws we can't live in a lawless land or you're going to have what you're doing right now this video both sides need to be investigated groups on both sides and Tifa they're just as bad as the rest it's all corruption and the highest of the high is behind both sides sitting there laughing at us fighting each other it's disgusting and we're not stupid innocent Americans who want nothing but a good life a peaceful world and a trusting government did obviously is behind it all they're the ones that suffer the most

  25. Anti fascist are no better than the white supremacist. There were bad people on both sides. but this documentary only talks about one side of it.

  26. The United State is a White Christian Nation.

    And if you think it's going to be given up without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.

    Hail Victory!

  27. It is still critically important to maintain the Bill of Rights– Constitutionally protected guaranteed civil rights– especially the right to speech, worship and assembly. And the rights of the minority view, regardless how disagreeable or repugnant, must always be vigorously protected. Hate Speech is Free Speech. It is the most necessary barometer that reveals the true health of our principles of civil rights and equality. No matter the obnoxious or ugly nature of the bigoted philosophies being expressed by either groups or individuals– whether on the "left" or "right," or nebulously extreme– their civil rights must be protected, or else the health of all civil rights is jeopardized. The willingness of us all as a nation to defend and support the civil rights of those we disagree with, even when we deem them and their beliefs totally atrocious, is an essential indicator of the true strength of our values, ideals, and principles.

    It is vitally important that groups "in the margins" are especially enabled to exercise their Constitutionally protected guaranteed civil rights, and to reasonable extent, even prioritized above the "normal" and "decent" values of the ordinary American "majority." Exactly like the most heinous of all criminals, the most abysmal and worthless of all vicious people who are all but "certain" to be guilty– it is crucial that these people above all be afforded adequate due process, fair representation, and honorable recognition of their Constitutionally protected guaranteed civil rights. It is this commitment to our principles that make the key difference in our administering justice in a free society, as opposed to defeatism in a totalitarian, authoritarian deception. This pledge is the key difference between Stalin's show trials in the Soviet Union, and Nuremberg and the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. It is Miranda and a hundred other similar precedents that cement our civil liberties for all, for equality.

    All of the alarmism about "racism" and bigotry in this mainstream presentation, accompanied by sinister music and unsettling depictions of chaos and unrest… this a tradition of sensationalist American "journalisming," no matter how correct, accurate, or "unbiased." And this "expose" type of appeal is also an important part of civil liberties, too. But beyond the emotional haze, it can never be lost on us that we must apply the Bill of Rights to everyone, including even those minorities who we think worthless and irredeemable. We need to live in that country where the ALCU prompted litigation to ensure the civil rights of neo-Nazis to march in Skokie… and we need to be genuinely troubled when we see the ACLU continually waffling and weakly applying socially fickle, emotional whims of "racism" and "hate crimes," to avoid uncomfortably difficult controversies concerning civil rights.

    People who participate in hateful and bigoted behavior will receive their just "rewards" in society, and they will be societally ostracized to a dismal circle of their own making. But, in a nation where the Bill of Rights should protect speech, beliefs, and assembly, there is something disturbing that any mere association with bigots (re: assembly), or perceived bigoted or "racist" beliefs deemed to be "offensive" by a vague mob condemnation, should be weaponized to shame and destroy individuals' lives without the due process applied in criminal convictions… regardless how disagreeable these persons' beliefs, words, and associations. Notwithstanding the real potential for reinforcement of more dire criminality and hateful behavior by attacking individuals for their perceived beliefs and associations… this isn't what we ought to be doing in a true free society, grounded with the principles of the Bill of Rights.

    As awful as it may seem to say… the "racist" or bigoted ideas carried within any individual, whether that person is a soldier or an employee of the government, should not matter to his status as an American, nor his duties if he fulfills them without incident. Membership in certain groups may be prohibited while a person serves in the military, insofar as there might be conflicts of interest concerning loyalties and duties. But any American, whether merely "racist" or bigoted, ought never be persecuted for the stupidity or ignorance of their beliefs, if their duties are reliably performed and their loyalty amply demonstrated. That's the "free" in a free country– free speech, free beliefs, free assembly.

    Beware the person clamoring that "there ought to be a law" about "hate speech," and that "racist" and bigoted beliefs like "white supremacy" should be criminalized. The irrationality and stupidity of those beliefs inevitably work themselves out, and create their own painful conflicts of interest in the lives of bigoted people, with ample consequences. While it may be our duty to teach and enlighten, by explaining those beliefs according to rationality, and providing healthy perspective to those unfamiliar with the substance of bigotry and hatred… it should never be our mission to destroy such people because of their beliefs or associations. Otherwise, we are really no better than them, just similarly bigoted and hateful, and equally as narrow and shallow in acceptance of free peoples. Instead, we must uphold their civil liberties with extra efforts, and work even harder to ensure that the ideals and principles we have in the Bill of Rights are applied even to the most unworthy among us. Again… this is the critical barometer that reveals the true strength of our free society, and the true greatness of our dedication to equally applied civil rights.

    Hate Speech is Free Speech. And even beyond that simple truth, "hate speech" is the essential standard that truly tests our resolve and commitment to Constitutionally protected guaranteed civil rights.

    (…if it matters… non-white, "POC," 1st Gen American born of immigrants– one who earned citizenship & one foreign national, and not a Trump voter… but strongly support the Bill of Rights for civil rights and equality for all… 🤓)

  28. Lol that racist dickhead said AC probably didnt want to work with ProPublica! Thanks so much for posting this! I'd love an update if AC and or staff would be up to it!

  29. All I see is nothing but a bunch of trailer park inbreds believing they are pure white. How about a big F U to all you trumpiss.

  30. RIP Heather Heyer. You will never be forgotten. There but for the grace of the goddess go I. Condolences to your family.
    This must never be allowed to happen again.

  31. The Democrat party hates whites.Deport all Democrats to China.Who was behind the BLACK LIVES MATTER rally in which 4 white cops were killed ?

  32. i m day dreaming what i would have done to my child if he or she was a nazi….?! no good ending i can tell you !! PARENTS ARE COMPLISIT !

  33. What's especially frustrating with all the White Supremacists/Antifa narratives is how so much of the violence can be attributed to (mostly adolescent/young adult) full-emo LARPing. Quite similar to PUNK-anarchists of earlier generations that wrapped their hormones and feelings into the available mass movements of the time period. I'm sure the Black Panthers and Weather Underground had their fair share of membership-for-melee applicants as well.

  34. I have never heard any white person state that they were a "white supremacist". The southern Democrats campaigned for office under a "Whte Supremacy" platform. Democrats invented "white supremacy".

  35. WOW has it spiraled out. Of control now these Brown Stain Shirts are escalating with bombs 💣 and barrel of the gun a President who called these roaches out of the wood work has the blood of Americans on his through their terrorism cause of his words

  36. Whats the difference in a group hollering white lives matter and a group hollering black lives matter? Nothing, because theyre both for their own race when it boils down to it. Say what you want but its the truth. Each group wants their right but dont want to grant the other their freedom of speech that each group are rightfully permitted in the US.

  37. Why didnt this guy investigate racism before trump election? Entire premise is this bukkshit kicked off with trump- lame

  38. US government must treat those terrorist groups same like ISIS, they should be targeted and killed by any means, bomb them with drones like ElQuada or ISIS. What’s the difference between those groups? Both of them kill innocent people. The only terrifying difference is some of the white members have access to government intelligence.

  39. Trump was waiting long to become to the president to use power against black, Colour, racist and try devoid country
    Trump is responsible for all this action and blood of people was killed, this be not over soon become harder trump most be stop

  40. Some of this footage isn't even from Charlottesville and many of the Charlottesville scenes has completely irrelevant audio added in.

  41. 9:00 So the counter protesters were "anti fascist?" They're holding up the a red and black flag which symbolizes anarchy and communism. Call them what they are.

  42. Those Racist white boys lol won't be acting like this in California state penitentiary bc in there they roll with South Siders XIII and La eme. I wonder how they feel when Hispanics out number whites in prison and in the foreseeable future will outnumber whites.

  43. You know the history, WW2, American civil war… There is only one way to deal with Nazis. There is only one remedy for this illness.

  44. If these people went to the Deep South where I'm from and started this crap, they wouldn't last long let me tell you! There outnumbered in most scenarios. I don't support racism! i pray and hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *