A campaign to name and shame people who marched at a bloody right-wing rally in Charlottesville has so far prompted two universities to condemn white supremacy — even as the outed students defend their decisions to attend.
Not everyone who went to the weekend rallies was a student, of course. Hundreds of people from all walks of life joined neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white nationalists for a weekend event dubbed “Unite the Right.”
As marches and countermarches devolved into violence — culminating Saturday when a man rammed his car into a crowd and killed a woman — the Twitter user @YesYoureRacist asked for help identifying “Nazis marching in Charlottesville.”
The anonymous user linked to copious photos and videos of the rally — swastikas and crowds of shouting white men.
Within minutes, names began to pour in, and consequences began to unfurl in home towns across the country.
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 12, 2017
The first target was a man spotted in a crowd of tiki-torch-wielding marchers, whom Twitter users identified as Cole White, a cook at a hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, Calif.
By Saturday evening, the restaurant had posted signs in its windows and sent a statement to The Washington Post — the cook was no longer employed.
Sign on the door of Top Dog on Durant Ave confirms Cole White is no longer employed by the chain pic.twitter.com/ROwAed2NOl
— Harini Shyamsundar (@hshyamsundar) August 13, 2017
By then, @YesYoureRacist was targeting a new marcher: Peter Cvjetanovic, who more than 10,000 petition signers think should be expelled from the University of Nevada.
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 12, 2017
“I have received death threats,” Cvjetanovic told the Reno Gazette-Journal after his name got out, but promised to nevertheless “defend tooth and nail my views as a white nationalist.”
He told KTVN News that “I came to this march with the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture” — and later wrote to the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “I went to honor the heritage of white culture here in the United States.”
These arguments apparently didn’t sit well with the University of Nevada, where Cvjetanovic also works on campus.
“The University unequivocally rejects the positions and ideology that were espoused during the white supremacist rally that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia,” school President Marc Johnson wrote in a statement late Monday.
But, Johnson wrote, “based on discussion and investigation with law enforcement, our attorneys and our Office of Student Conduct, there is no constitutional or legal reason to expel him from our University or to terminate his employment.”
Cvjetanovic condemned all violence in his interviews and said he left the Charlottesville rally before an alleged Nazi sympathizer was accused of plowing a car into a crowd.
“These last few days have turned into a disaster,” Cvjetanovic told ABC affiliate KOLO. But, he said, “I believe that cultures are being threatened. … Everyone is melding together.”
Cvjetanovic was infamous on campus for that kind of talk, according to Ed Donofrio, a self-described socialist who told The Post he used to share a dorm suite with the white nationalist.
“I remember having a discussion with him one time about the whole build-the-wall thing,” Donofrio said, referring to President Trump’s plan to wall off the border with Mexico. “He was a fan of shooting immigrants coming across.”
The shaming campaign claimed some innocent casualties along with avowed white nationalists. @YoureARacist apologized after claiming YouTube star Joey Salads went to the rally with a Nazi armband. (Salads wore the armband months earlier at a Donald Trump rally, as an experiment, apparently.)
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) August 13, 2017
And as the New York Times reported, the campaign sprawled beyond a single Twitter account, leading errant sleuths across the Internet to call for the firing of a University of Arkansas worker who was misidentified as a marcher who looked vaguely similar.
Another rally-goer being shamed on Twitter didn’t actually need to be outed, as he had announced his attendance and live-streamed the event for his fans.
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 13, 2017
All the same, James Allsup’s presence in Virginia caused a scandal back home at his school, Washington State University.
The school’s president first released a statement condemning “racism and Nazism of any kind,” then an open letter denouncing the rally for surfacing “the most vile and dehumanizing beliefs and actions of human history.”
Allsup, who leads the College Republicans at the university, blamed “a handful of Nazi-flag-waving morons” for hijacking an otherwise respectable right-wing event.
“I would consider myself paleo-conservative,” the student told KREM 2. “More of a right-wing libertarian.”
And indeed, he made sure in his live-stream to disavow prominent racists such as David Duke, who was also in Charlottesville.
“I talked to dozens of rally attendees that were uncomfortable and put off by the Nazi imagery. Myself included,” the student wrote on Twitter. “Very, very bad look.”
But when Allsup was at the rally, ranting to Infowars that “low-IQ migrants” were going to destroy the country unless legal immigration was banned, a man beside him interrupted.
“Name international Jewry!” the man said. “That’s who the globalists are.”
Allsup didn’t look so uncomfortable. He grinned and laughed as the marchers around him cheered.
This post has been updated.