RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - UPDATE: At a Monday afternoon news conference, University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson said Peter Cvjetanovic will not be fired or expelled from the university.
Peter Cvjetanovic, a University of Nevada, Reno student captured in viral photos of protests in Charlottesville, Va. Facebook photo used with his permission.
A photograph of a UNR student has gone viral on social media. The photograph shows Peter Cvjetanovic with a large group of white nationalists as they marched in Charlottesville, one day before the Unite the Right rally Satuday. On Twitter, many people are calling Cvjetanovic a racist and Nazi.
Cvjetanovic tells KOLO 8 News Now that he does not consider himself a Neo-Nazi or a White Supremacist. He says he is an Identitarian and that he is not the angry racist many are saying he appears to be in the photograph.
"I believe that cultures are being threatened," says Cvjetanovic, 20, who identifies Reno as his hometown. "Everyone is melding together and I personally believe that with immigration, some cultures are being threatened and that includes whites, European culture. I do not hate other cultures."
Cvjetanovic says he went to Charlottesville to attend the rallies, where he wanted to hear speakers. He says he was at the Friday rally where he was photographed, but that he left the Unite the Right rally Saturday before the crash that killed a woman occured.
"I didn't go there to be violent. I wanted to honor White Heritage and things got out of control and it shouldn't have gone down the way it did. In my personal experience, these last few days have turned into a disaster." The North Valleys High School graduate says he does not condone the violence that occurred and offers his condolences to the families of the three people who have died. He also says he has a plan to raise money to give to the family of the counter-protester who was killed.
Cvjetanovic says he has gotten a few death threats and that people have contacted his family. He is asking people to leave his family alone, saying they are not White Supremacists or Identitarians and have nothing to do with any of this.
"I understand that things will never return to a sense of normalcy. The picture is out there. It is my own choice. I will be living with it. I won't be running away. I hope that I can attend UNR safely and that anyone out there who is upset at me would be willing to talk with me. Maybe they could see that I'm not the hateful bigot that I'm shown to be."
He acknowledges that he is also employed by the Unversity of Nevada, Reno and that he does not want to lose his job.
University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson issued a statement. In part, it reads:
"We have been witness to the violence that has taken place this weekend during the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. One of the marchers photographed has been identified as a University of Nevada, Reno student. Racism and white supremacist movements have a corrosive effect on our society. These movements do not represent our values as a university...
"As an institution, we remain firm in our commitment in denouncing all forms of bigotry and racism, which have no place in a free and equal society... The University of Nevada, Reno is a caring and safe community of students and employees from a broad range of backgrounds with differing beliefs. This community will not be divided by hateful language and violence."