On Friday night, the day before the violent “Unite the Right” protests, a large group of white nationalists marched at the University of Virginia carrying torches.
One picture from Friday night that went viral showed a man yelling, his face illumined by the light from his tiki torch. It went viral after Twitter account @YesYoureRacist identified him.
It turns out that the man pictured, 20-year-old Peter Cvjetanovic, is a student at the University of Nevada-Reno, according to KTVN. Cvjetanovic is an undergraduate student studying history and political science.
“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 KTVN. “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.”
Cvjetanovic told KTVN that he understood that the photo has a “negative connotation” but that he hopes that people 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,” Cvjetanovic told KTVN.
The same Twitter account that tweeted the original photo of Cvjetanovic, also tweeted a picture of the UNR student with Nevada Sen. Dean Heller. Heller took to Twitter to denounce the events.
UNR also issued a statement on its Facebook page: “To our @unevadareno community: please know we are aware of the dialogue taking place and the unfortunate incidents in Charlottesville, VA. Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy. Despite these challenges, we strive for an inclusive campus where people feel safe and welcome.”