A White Nationalist who traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia to march in the “Unite the Right” rally, a battle over Charlottesville’s ordered removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, says that he is not the “angry racist” that is portrayed in a viral photo of him carrying a torch at the rally.
Peter Cvjetanovic, a 20 year-old undergraduate student at the University of Reno who is studying history and political science, told KTVN: “I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture.”
“It is not perfect; there are flaws to it, of course,” he added. “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.”
America 2017: POTUS silent about torch-wielding white supremacists marching at the University of Virginia.
— Liberal USAF Vet (@USAirForce92) August 12, 2017
Photos of Cvjetanovic attending the rally circulated on social media, with many denouncing him as a racist.
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 12, 2017
“I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was,” he noted. “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,” he said. “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.”
Cvjetanovic joined thousands of far-right protesters who shouted the Nazi-linked phrase “blood and soil” and marched through the university’s Charlottesville campus on Friday night, the day before a large nationalist gathering was planned in the center of the city.
They encircled a group of counter-demonstrators at a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the NY Daily News reported, and violence broke out on both sides.