The protestors carrying torches in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday might not have worn hoods or traditional Klan attire. But the hateful ideology that brought them together was undoubtedly racist. They were a group of white men protesting the removal of a Confederate monument. They see its removal as another step in the elimination of white culture.
Their chants of "you will not replace us" and "blood and soil" were an homage to white supremacy.
But when one attendee of the rally was asked if his ideology was racist, he denied it.
Peter Cvjetanovic, an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, was one of the attendees depicted in the shocking images. Speaking with a local news station, Cvjetanovic insisted he was not "the angry racist" people saw in the photos.
“I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was," he told KTVN. "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.”
Cvjetanovic then tried to explain why he traveled across the country to take part in the rally.
“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture," he said. “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.”
“As a white nationalist, I care for all people," he added. "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.”
The University of Nevada, Reno released a statement on Twitter Sunday offering its condolences to the Heather Heyer, the woman who died in a white supremacist terror attack.