University of Nevada, Reno student Peter Cvjetanovic wants everyone to know he isn’t the white nationalist everyone thinks he is. In fact, he’s just a happy one that wants to blanket the country with white power.
The 20-year-old with cheap tiki torch in hand, was one of the many white nationalists who took part in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally over the weekend. As Cvjetanovic stood among neo-Nazi, KKK and proud alt-right members, he was photographed and became one the precursor images for the violence that would strike hours later.
After he was outed by internet sleuths on Twitter, Cvjetanovic wants everyone to know his intentions for the march and why he isn’t as racist as everyone thinks he is.
“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture, “Cvjetanovic told Channel 2 News. “It is not perfect; there are flaws to it, of course. However I do believe that the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.”
Lee was a Confederate army leader at the height of Civil War. Cvjetanovic told the station over the phone he was present to protest the removal of a statue commemorating Lee in Charlottesville.
He also doesn’t seem himself as a racist, but a firm believer in white power. “I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was,” he said. “I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo. As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”
A Change petition was created, calling for Cvjetanovic’s expulsion. So far, 14,995 people have supported the action. Cvjetanovic isn’t thrilled about the idea. “I do not think they have the right to expel me from a public university, ” he said. “I went to a legal political rally to express my freedom of speech. I committed no acts of violence, and dispersed when told that the rally had become illegal. Therefore I did nothing illegal at that rally. I am allowed to express my political beliefs and if UNR does expel me, then it is a clear violation of my first amendment.”
UNR president President Marc A. Johnson released a statement after Cvjetanovic was identified as a UNR student. “Racism and white supremacist movements have a corrosive effect on our society. These movements do not represent our values as a university,” he said. “We denounce any movement that targets individuals due to the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual orientation, ability/disability, or whether they were born in our country. As an institution, we remain firm in our commitment in denouncing all forms of bigotry and racism, which have no place in a free and equal society.”
Nevada Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) also distanced himself from Cvjetanovic after he was seen in a photo with him.
“I don’t know this person & condemn the outrageous racism, hatred and violence,” Heller said on Twitter. “It’s unacceptable & shameful. No room for it in this country.”
Many more white nationalists have been exposed by the minute and have since lost their jobs and have become the subject of ridicule on social media.
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