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If the white nationalists and supremacists at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., were looking to be noticed, mission accomplished.
A group of Twitter users — most notably the @YesYoureRacist account — have been publishing photos of the protestors on the social networking site and asking followers for help identifying them.
One of the first to be identified on Saturday — a 20-year-old college student named Peter Cvjetanovic — told the Channel 2 news station in Reno, Nevada that he “not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was.”
“I understand the photo has a very negative connotation,” he said. “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.”
Cvjetanovic traveled to the “Unite the Right” march to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee, he said, because “the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland.”
Simply identifying someone by name from a public photo does not appear to violate Twitter’s policies, but publishing private information such as a phone number, home address or social security number typically would.
The day of protests ended in a fatality when a 32-year-old local resident named Heather Heyer was killed by a protester who drove his car through a crowd, injuring 19 others. The police have arrested James Alex Fields Jr., an Ohio resident, and charged him with second-degree murder in the attack.
The tragedy in Charlottesville comes amidst a tense national discourse over prejudice and racism that has been enflamed by the election of President Donald Trump, who has received support from certain hate groups.
At the same time, the tech industry continues to struggle with its own racial and gender issues, where white men still vastly outnumber all others. Last week, Google fired an employee who authored a controversial memo that suggested there are less women in tech because of biological differences between them and men.
The firing has been seized upon by the alt-right, including favorite son Jack Posobiec, who has mounted a campaign against the company with a possible protest later this week.