RENO, Nev. – Officials at the University of Nevada, Reno are resisting calls to expel a self-professed white nationalist student who was photographed at the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday.
The rally, organized to oppose the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, involved numerous clashes with far-left agitators who descended on the gathering with weapons in hand. One woman was killed when an alleged racist rammed a vehicle into a crowd of anti-fascist protestors, and well over a dozen others were injured in the fighting.
Among the melee was 20-year-old UNR senior Peter Cvjetanovic, who was photographed on the University of Virginia campus while screaming and carrying a torch.
— Yes, You’re Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 12, 2017
Twitter user “Yes, You’re Racist” outed Cvjetanovic later Saturday evening and quickly racked up tens of thousands of re-tweets. The revelation, of course, prompted leftist students at UNR to urge campus officials to expel Cvjetanovic for expressing his beliefs.
California resident Adam Kerr launched a petition on Change.org to demand UNR expel Cvjetanovic, while simultaneously accusing the university itself of being racist.
“The University of Nevada, Reno is as racist as white supremacist Peter Cvjetanovic,” according to the petition “Fire & Expel Peter Cvjetanovic.”
“The university has condemned the actions that took place in Charlottesville. Yet, UNR has also refused to give Peter Cvjetanovic any consequences for his actions,” the petition reads. “If the university really means what they say when they say they ‘condemn’ the violence, they would do something.”
As of Thursday morning, the petition had garnered nearly 34,000 signatures toward a goal of 35,000.
Ironically, while the petition aims to expose Cvjetanovic as a racist, the identities of those who signed it are kept confidential.
— Benjamin Margiott (@BenMargiott) August 14, 2017
The effort to oust Cvjetanovic also gained support of U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, of Nevada, who told KRNV that he thinks Cvjetanovic needs to go.
“I was very, very disappointed to learn that any Nevadan would have participated in an ordeal like that,” he said. “I do denounce his feelings on this, that he was there, and I don’t think there’s any room for a student at UNR to have those kinds of feelings.”
In an interview with KRNV, Cjetanovic said he’s not racist, and clarified that he considers himself a white nationalist.
“I personally believe that all cultures and peoples – that includes their languages, their religions, their histories – are under threat with globalism,” he said, referring to himself as an “identitarian.” “With the free exchange of people, languages and peoples just die out. And I believe that the white culture in the United States is at threat in its own way, and I want to help defend that.
“As an identitarian, I want all nations to preserve their culture and their history and their identity,” he said, adding that he’d gladly work with black nationalists, Native Americans and others who are seeking the same.
“I’m not a white supremacist in any sense of the word. I do not believe that whites are inherently superior in any way to any other race. I know a lot of stupid whites and I know a lot of really intelligent Indians and Asians. … On the average of all races, we’re the same,” he said.
Cjetanovic said he has no plans to drop out of UNR, despite death threats and the petition to force him out, though he surmised he’s likely lose his job on campus because it requires a lot of interaction with other students.
University officials made it clear on Monday that they have no plans to force Cvjetanovic out.
UNR President Marc Johnson said Cvjetanovic’s constitutionally protected right to free speech trumps the sensibilities of his classmates.
“The First Amendment freedom of speech requires us all to understand that sometimes support for this freedom can be uncomfortable,” Johnson said, according to KRNV.
UNR vice president of student services, Shannon Ellis, said the university “will stand for inclusivity and equity” but Cvjetanovic did not violate the student code of conduct with his attendance at the “Unite the Right” rally.
“The tragedy that occurred this weekend in Virginia is an important reminder that we must recognize the perspectives of all individuals. Peaceful assembly and exchange of ideas is part of the bedrock of any free society,” the UNR statement read. “We will maintain a commitment to the safe, peaceful expression and exchange of ideas on our campus.”