Torch wielding Charlottesville white nationalist: I’m not racist, I’m misunderstood
An alt-right white nationalist who became the viral face of last weekend’s Charlottesville protests has denied being an “angry racist”.
Peter Cvjetanovic, was photographed yelling while holding a flaming torch at the protest, where vile homophobic chants were heard.
The 20-year-old, who attends the University of Nevada, says he did not expect to become the viral face of the weekend’s riots.
He has spoken following the events in Charlottesville – which saw a car driven into anti-racist campaigners, killing a woman – to claim the picture is not who he really is.
Cvjetanovic 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.
“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.”
Chants of “f**k you faggots” were heard at the protest, with attendees holding Confederate flags and other racist symbols.
The protest also turned into angry riots, with violent clashes and terrifying footage of a car ploughing into peaceful anti-racist protestors, killing a woman.
Cvjetanovic claims these images recorded at the event are not an accurate representation.
“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.”
Cvjetanovic added: “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.”
In a clip caught by HuffPost reporter Christopher Mathias the group of people, who are seen holding Confederate flags and other racist symbols, can be heard shouting the homophobic phrase.
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) August 12, 2017
More than 1000 police officers were deployed for the event which was officially meant to start at midday, but hundreds of people had turned up by morning.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre deemed the protest, which is believed to have attracted up to 6,000 people, as the “largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States”.
White nationalist also marched on the University of Virginia Friday.
The chanted “blood and soil” and “you will not replace us” as they circled a statue of Thomas Jefferson.
City officials and officials from the University of Virginia condemned the unofficial march and protests that have taken place across two days.
“In my 47 years of association with @UVA, this was the most nauseating thing I’ve ever seen.
“We need an exorcism on the Lawn,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics tweeted.
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer released a statement referring to Friday’s rally as a “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights.”