White supremacist who marched in Charlottesville: 'I'm not the angry racist they see in that photo'

Peter Cvjetanovic, the 20-year-old college student pictured here, participated in the white nationalist rally that led to three deaths — and he has a message for observers.

White Supremacists March with Torches in Charlottesville

"I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was," Cvjetanovic told Channel 2 News in Nevada. "I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I'm not the angry racist they see in that photo."

The rally Cvjetanovic took part in, called "Unite the Right," was organized to protest the planned removal of a confederate statue in Charlottesville honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee. The gathering included members of multiple far-right extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and self-described fascist group Vanguard America. Several marchers shouted Nazi slogans and carried confederate flags, as well as signs with Nazi imagery.

19 PHOTOS
White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
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White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protesters direct obscene gestures towards members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in support of Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters shout at members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A counter-protester is detained as members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police detain a counter-protester during the aftermath of a rally by members of the Ku Klux Klan in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters help a man affected by pepper gas as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, such as the statue of General Stonewall Jackson above them, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan, standing near a tomato and and an orange that had been thrown at them by counter-protesters, hold a sign as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Cvjetanovic said he attended the march "for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture," and said he believed the removal of Lee's statue symbolized "the slow replacement of white heritage" in the US.

The University of Nevada, Reno student then referenced the 14 words, one of the most famous white supremacist slogans. "We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture," Cvjetanovic said. "White nationalists aren't all hateful: We just want to preserve what we have."

Saturday's rally, which featured prominent white supremacists like Richard Spencer and former KKK leader David Duke, rapidly devolved into chaos when apparent white supremacist James Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, ultimately killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19. Two members of the Virginia State Police force were also killed that day after their helicopter crashed outside Charlottesville as they were monitoring the protests.

Fields is currently being held without bail on suspicion of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one hit-and-run count. His next court hearing is scheduled for August 25.

President Donald Trump issued a statement about the riots on Saturday but quickly drew sharp criticism for failing to specifically condemn the white supremacists who had sparked the violence.

He issued a subsequent statement on Monday, in which he denounced the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and "other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."

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See Also:

SEE ALSO: Leading white supremacist site The Daily Stormer promises to 'go bigger than Charlottesville'

DON'T MISS: Here's what we know about James Fields, the 20-year-old with 'deeply-held, radical' beliefs about race accused of mowing down protesters in Charlottesville


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