The Fascist Face Of Charlottesville Joined The Military. Then He Got Kicked Out.

Written by on April 28, 2021

The white nationalist featured in an notorious, viral {photograph} from the 2017 “Unite The Proper” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, joined the U.S. army, HuffPost has discovered, however was kicked out earlier than he might attend fundamental coaching. 

Peter Cytanovic, 24, was expelled from the Nevada Nationwide Guard in December after officers discovered of his extremist ties by means of a Protection Division background verify, authorities confirmed. His comparatively swift dismissal from the Nationwide Guard seems to be a uncommon instance of army officers taking proactive, decisive steps to maintain an extremist out of the armed companies. 

On Aug. 11, 2017, Cytanovic was photographed holding a flaming tiki torch and screaming as he and different white nationalists marched in Charlottesville. The image went viral and continues to hang-out and form Cytanovic’s life. His face of fury shortly turned emblematic of the bloody and historic weekend, when a resurgent American white nationalist motion went masks off. 

After publishing a collection of tales about extremists within the army, HuffPost lately obtained a tip that Cytanovic described himself as a “U.S. Officer Candidate at US Military” on LinkedIn. 

Though his title couldn’t be present in a Protection Division database of army service members, a “Peter Cytanovic VI” was listed in a listing of latest enlistees revealed in a 2020 problem of Battle Born – The Quarterly Journal of the Nevada Nationwide Guard

A spokesman for the Nevada Nationwide Guard confirmed that Cytanovic enlisted on Nov. 22, 2019, however that his stint within the U.S. armed forces lasted solely somewhat over a 12 months — and that he was ejected due to his “affiliations.” 

“Preliminary prison and fingerprint checks discovered no report that will deny enlistment,” Lt. Col. Mickey Kirschenbaum informed HuffPost in an announcement explaining how Cytanovic initially joined the U.S. army, which has laws forbidding participation in extremist teams. 

As a result of he had a four-year faculty diploma, Cytanovic entered the Nevada Nationwide Guard as a Specialist E-4, the best rank obtainable to junior enlisted recruits. He began to attend month-to-month drills to organize for Military Primary Fight Coaching. “Nevertheless, throughout routine in-processing, Mr. Cytanovic was not in a position to get hold of a safety clearance,” Kirschenbaum stated.

A Protection Division background verify revealed that the FBI had opened an investigation into Cytanovic following his participation within the Charlottesville rally, Lt. Emerson Marcus, one other spokesperson for the Nevada Nationwide Guard, informed HuffPost. 

That’s how the nationwide guard discovered of Cytanovic’s “affiliations,” Marcus stated.  

The FBI declined to touch upon its investigation into Cytanovic, who was by no means charged with a criminal offense in relation to the occasions in Charlottesville. 

Pentagon spokesperson Candice Tresch stated in an electronic mail that the Protection Division couldn’t “talk about particular circumstances,” however famous that the Protection Counterintelligence and Safety Company “searches federal, state, native, and vendor data as a part of the background investigation course of” and in addition “obtains data from the applicant, prior and present employers, co-workers, neighbors, and references.”  

The Nevada Nationwide Guard canceled Cytanovic’s orders for fundamental coaching on July 27, 2020, months earlier than he was set to ship out. Months later, on December 17, he obtained a proper  “entry-level separation” from the U.S. army. 

Cytanovic — who, earlier than enlisting, gave interviews during which he expressed remorse for attending the Charlottesville rally and claimed, not all that convincingly, to resign white nationalism — declined to touch upon this story by means of a member of the family.  

“The Nevada Nationwide Guard doesn’t tolerate racist, extremist ideology,” Kirschenbaum stated in his assertion. “The Nevada Nationwide Guard took motion instantly after discovering Mr. Cytanovic’s affiliations.” 

However that’s not at all times the case. After HuffPost revealed a collection of tales in 2019 serving to expose 11 U.S. servicemen as members of the white nationalist group Identification Evropa, solely six have been kicked out of the army. The opposite 5 are nonetheless within the armed companies, underscoring each the vagaries of army codes prohibiting extremism and the way enforcement of these codes is commonly left to the whims and discretion of particular person commanders. 

Furthermore, there’s proof that even well-known white nationalists like Cytanovic can handle to hitch the army undetected. 

Final month, HuffPost discovered that Shawn McCaffrey — a distinguished white nationalist podcaster and former member of Identification Evropa — lately graduated from Air Power boot camp. (McCaffrey was additionally on the FBI’s radar, HuffPost discovered, however the company declined to say whether or not it ever alerted the Air Power about his extremism.)

Students of extremism have lengthy warned in regards to the risks of far-right extremists becoming a member of the army, the place they obtain coaching they’ll then use to inflict violence on civilians. After an indignant far-right crowd stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 15% of these arrested for his or her position within the rebellion had some form of army affiliation.

In February, Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin issued a military-wide stand-down order, requiring commanders to have “wanted discussions” about extremism with troops. Earlier this month, Austin wrote a memo outlining the Pentagon’s plans to enhance the screening of army recruits for extremist beliefs.  

A Defining {Photograph} 

"I understand the photo has a very negative connotation," said Peter Cytanovic of this photo taken of him during the "Unite t

“I perceive the photograph has a really damaging connotation,” stated Peter Cytanovic of this photograph taken of him through the “Unite the Proper” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Anti-racist activists have lengthy touted the significance of making a social price for embracing hate and white nationalism. Cyantovic’s abrupt dismissal from the Nationwide Guard is simply the most recent censure he’s confronted for his look in Charlottesville — although at different occasions, his infamy has provoked soft-focused media protection and particular consideration from faculty directors. 

There have been a whole bunch of marchers in Charlottesville, however because of a shutter snap, Cytanovic turned the face of hate. On the evening of Aug. 11, 2017, as a whole bunch of white supremacists marched throughout the campus of the College of Virginia, photographer Samuel Corum targeted his lens on Cytanovic — then a 20-year-old faculty pupil sporting a fashy haircut and a white polo shirt emblazoned with the Identification Evropa brand. Cytanovic held a tiki torch in his proper hand, his mouth agape as he chanted “You’ll not exchange us!” in indignant unison with the ghoulish group. 

The subsequent day — as they rallied once more close to a statue of Accomplice Gen. Robert E. Lee in a Charlottesville park, violently clashing with anti-fascist activists earlier than a neo-Nazi drove his automotive right into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one individual and injuring many extra — the photograph of Cytanovic began to go viral on Twitter. On-line sleuths shortly recognized him. 

By the point Cytanovic stepped off a airplane the subsequent day at Reno-Tahoe Worldwide Airport, a information crew was there to greet him. The day after, his photograph was printed above the fold on the entrance web page of The Reno Journal-Gazette

“I didn’t anticipate the photograph to be shared as a lot because it was … I perceive the photograph has a really damaging connotation,” Cytanovic stated in one of many many interviews he gave on the time. “However I hope that the folks sharing the photograph are prepared to pay attention that I’m not the indignant racist they see in that photograph.” 

However he nonetheless known as himself a white nationalist whereas claiming to sentence the carnage in Charlottesville. “I’ll defend tooth and nail my views as a white nationalist,” he stated. “I really like my tradition and can battle for it, however by no means in a violent manner.”

A flyer on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, on Feb. 1, 2018, protesting student Peter Cytanovic's presence on ca

A flyer on the campus of the College of Nevada, Reno, on Feb. 1, 2018, protesting pupil Peter Cytanovic’s presence on campus. Cytanovic attended the 2017 white supremacist “Unite The Proper” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Cytanovic stated he and his household began to obtain dying threats, and because the world grappled with the importance of Charlottesville — and with a white nationalist motion emboldened by the rise of former President Donald Trump — the photograph continued to journey far and extensive, accompanying a whole bunch of articles written in a number of languages. 

By late December within the U.Ok., The Guardian named it considered one of “the most effective images of 2017.” 

In February 2018, the photograph appeared on flyers posted throughout the campus of the College of Nevada, Reno, the place Cytanovic was finding out political science and historical past. “UNR PROTECTS RACISTS,” the flyers declared. “UNRBlackHistoryMonth.” 

College students had held protests and began petitions demanding Cytanovic be expelled, however faculty directors declined to take action, citing the First Modification. (Cytanovic did, nonetheless, resign his campus job driving college students to and from class.) 

A few months later, Cytanovic sat down for a sympathetic, softball interview on The Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson, a present broadcast nationally by the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group. The episode was a part of a collection about “Snowflake Syndrome,” the concept that liberals are too illiberal of concepts with which they disagree. 

Cytanovic recounted how his fellow college students had tried to expel him over his participation within the Charlottesville rally, regardless that he’d allegedly had a political change of coronary heart. 

“My largest mistake is that I stupidly stated I’m a white nationalist,” he stated. “And at the moment, I did consider I used to be. However after wanting again on the motion, wanting again at what occurred, I understand that calling myself a white nationalist was very fallacious and I now not agree, I now not see myself as such.” 

Attkisson, the reporter, didn’t press him additional on the topic.  

Cyantovic had hassle presenting his senior thesis with out friction. Offended college students confronted him within the hallway instantly afterward. “Run Nazi, run!” they chanted, in accordance with The Nevada Sagebrush, the coed newspaper. 

Cytanovic graduated from UNR, and maybe wanting to flee his infamy, enrolled in a political idea grasp’s program hundreds of miles away on the London College of Economics. 

However the photograph adopted him throughout the Atlantic, too. 

“‘White nationalist’ from notorious Charlottesville protest now reportedly finding out at LSE,” learn the headline from the Unbiased, a number one British newspaper, which printed the photograph.  

As soon as once more, Cytanovic’s fellow college students have been protesting his presence on campus and calling for his expulsion, and as soon as once more, the college’s administration allowed him to stay enrolled. “LSE Protects Racists” learn flyers posted throughout campus. 

In June 2019, Cytanovic granted an interview request from The Beaver, the LSE pupil newspaper. He described being harassed by some college students on the faculty however stated directors had been accommodating, providing him safety and an inventory of professors he might name if he ever felt threatened. 

Though acknowledging that white privilege exists and even calling himself a feminist, Cytanovic nonetheless defended his motivation for going to Charlottesville: to protest in opposition to the elimination of the Robert E. Lee statue, which anti-racist activists needed torn down. 

“The rationale I went to Charlottesville — was the Accomplice statues, this love of tradition being … destroyed,” he stated, echoing a white nationalist speaking level. 

“I wasn’t fallacious on every little thing,” Cytanovic added, defending the explanations he went to the rally. “I used to be fallacious in the best way I expressed it. I used to be by no means a neo-Nazi, and I didn’t perceive what being a white nationalist was after I stated I used to be one.” (His interviews from that point counsel in any other case.) 

The London College of Economics didn’t return HuffPost’s request for remark as as to whether Cytanovic accomplished his grasp’s diploma program. 

Six months after his interview with the coed newspaper, he was again in Reno, enlisting within the Nevada Nationwide Guard. 

Later, a Protection Division background verify would reveal that he was the man in that Charlottesville photograph, and he can be kicked out of the U.S. army. 

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