(KRNV) — The University of Nevada is responding to backlash after its student, Peter Cvjetanovic, attended a white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. News 4 will stream the press conference at 3:30 p.m. PT. Watch live on Facebook or click here.
The University of Nevada, Reno is dealing with the fallout after photographs surfaced of a UNR student attending a white nationalist rally Friday night in Charlottesville, Virginia.
UNR student Peter Cvjetanovic on Sunday confirmed to News 4-Fox 11 that he did attend the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, as seen in photos captured Friday, Aug. 11.
On Saturday, Aug. 12, the rally took a deadly turn when a car rammed into a crowd of protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, and a state helicopter crashed into the woods, killing two state troopers.
The University of Nevada, Reno, which took heat on social media after photos circulated of Cvjentanovic at the rally, issued a statement on its Facebook page Saturday night.
“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.”
A day later, on Sunday, Aug. 13, UNR President Marc Johnson issued a follow-up statement:
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. We denounce any movement that targets individuals due to the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual orientation, ability/disability, or whether they were born in our country. 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. Our learning environment respects the right to freely express views and debate openly in civil discourse. There will be clashes of beliefs and opinions, but they must be peaceful. As a community, we abhor violence and it has no place on our campus. If we are to come to greater understanding of each other, it will be through open, honest, non-violent discussion and exploration of all ideas. Educating ourselves on the other's point of view is the key to understanding and peaceful co-existence.
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. We will maintain a commitment to the safe, peaceful expression and exchange of ideas on our campus.
- President Marc A. Johnson
Photos of Cvjetanovic, 20, participating in the "Unite the Right" rally -- a response to Charlottesville's plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee -- surfaced on social media Saturday afternoon.
The Twitter account @YesYoureRacist identified photos of a protester wearing a white polo shirt and holding a Tiki torch as Cvjetanovic, noting that he is a student at UNR. The tweet with photos of Cvjetanovic quickly went viral -- as of Sunday its been retweeted more than 26,000 times and has received nearly 1,500 comments.
Cvjtanovic's roommate from freshman year, Ed Donofrio, said, "he (Cvjtanovic) once told a person of color that they deserve to be discriminated against."
In an exclusive on camera interview with News 4-Fox 11's Ben Margiott, Cvjetanovic confirmed he was also employed by the University of Nevada, Reno and that his job required a lot of human interaction. He expressed he probably would not be welcome in employment position for much longer.
However, the 20-year-old white nationalist says he plans to continue to attend the university for his senior year multiple despite death threats and efforts to expell him.
Nevada Senator Dean Heller says that at the end of the day it is the University's decision, and that there is no reason a UNR student should have those feelings.
This is a developing story. Stay with us for updates.