By Bailey MeCey and Madeline Purdue
Update, 4:30 pm:
The University of Nevada, Reno, will not expel or fire Peter Cvjetanovic, a student who participated in a white nationalists rally that turned violent in Virginia on Saturday, August 12.
“We have no legal or constitutional basis upon which to expel him from studies or terminate him from employment, and we will not,” said UNR president Marc Johnson at a press conference on Monday afternoon.
President Johnson also stated that the university does not agree with Cvjetanovic’s message.
UNR Police Chief Adam Garcia also spoke at the press conference about safety concerns on campus ahead of school resuming for the Fall semester on Monday, August 28.
“We continue to work with not only our local but federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our campus to be extensive,” said Garcia.
A statement released by President Johnson after the press conference encourages students to report any hateful actions or language to the Title IX office or the university police department.
“With students soon to move back onto campus, we are stressing that we must be vigilant regarding what we see and hear,” said the statement. “The First Amendment freedom of free speech requires us all to understand that sometimes support of this freedom can be uncomfortable. It is one of the most difficult freedoms we live with. It requires us to support the right of people to express views which we sometimes vehemently disagree.”
The Title IX office is located at 1664 N. Virginia Street and can be reached at (775) 784-1547. The UNR police department in located in the same location and can be reached at (775) 784-4013.
A University of Nevada, Reno, student who was identified as one of the participants of the “Unite the Right” march that turned violent at the University of Virginia, says things are “spiraling out of control.” Peter Cvjetanovic, 20, told the Reno Gazette-Journal Sunday that he’s been issued several death threats, and plans to report at least five threats to the Reno Police Department.
On Friday, Aug. 11, white nationalist groups gathered to protest the removal of Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s statue on the UVA campus. Those protests escalated on Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19. Two more additional deaths and dozens more injuries have been reported since the violence began.
Cvjetanovic, who was shouting with other white nationalist group members, was photographed by Getty Images, which provides images to hundreds of news outlets nationwide. His picture was then quickly circulated by those mainstream outlets, putting his face front and center as nationwide interest in the story began to surge through the weekend.
He later spoke with Channel 2 News about his participation at the rally.
“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture,” said Cvjetanovic.
On Sunday, Cvetanovic told the media that he would never “fight for his culture in a violent way,” and noted that he was both there legally and was not part of any of the weekend’s violence.
When photos of white nationalist protestors began to appear online, users were encouraged to identify anyone they knew. UNR students quickly identified Cvjetanovic as a participant of the protest when pictures of him were circulated by major news organizations. Reactions to the news quickly followed on social media.
UNR student Bailey Gamberg tweeted that she recognized Cvjetanovic in a picture posted by Buzzfeed.
when the main dude in this photo is in most of your history classes and always spouts fascist and racist comments pic.twitter.com/PIH3uXbqaZ
— Bailey M. Gamberg (@bayymontana) August 12, 2017
“When the main dude in this photo is in most of your history classes and always spouts fascist and racist comments,” Gamberg tweeted.
After Cvjetanovic was identified as a UNR student, Twitter users from the university and around the country tweeted to UNR’s handle, encouraging the administration to take action.
University of Nevada how do you plan on addressing Peter Cvjetanovic attending the white supremacy rally today and promoting violence?
— Christy Colt (@ChristyColt) August 13, 2017
“University of Nevada how do you plan on addressing Peter Cvjetanovic attending the white supremacy rally today and promoting violence?” tweeted Christy Colt.
Even celebrities tweeted about identifying Cvjetanovic.
— Perez (@ThePerezHilton) August 13, 2017
“His name is Peter [Cvjetanovic]. And he’s a student at the @unevadareno. #NameThem #MakeBigotsAshamedAgain #Charlottesville,” tweeted Perez Hilton.
UNR president, Marc Johnson and Associated Students of the University of Nevada president Noah Teixeira have put out statements on Sunday condemning the violence that erupted in Charlottesville.
Johnson denounced the actions of the protestors and reinforced the university’s goals to make the campus a welcome place for all students, calling the white supremacist movement corrosive in an official statement.
“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,” Johnson said.
While he briefly commented on Cvjetanovic being involved in the rally, he focused on the the University’s goal of allowing free expression of ideas.
“We will maintain a commitment to the safe, peaceful expression and exchange of ideas on our campus,” Johnson said.
ASUN President Noah Teixeira also put out a statement on the violent protests, joining together with 61 colleges across the country in solidarity against the actions of the protestors.
“As the voice of our students, we collectively call on one another to speak up in the ace of injustice, as silence reduces us to bystanders in oppression,” said Teixeira.
At least two online petitions calling for Cvjetanovic to be expelled from the university have garnered more than 1,000 signatures.