The blowback from becoming the angry face of the 2017 “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, continues for University of Nevada, Reno alumnus Peter Cvjetanovic. The Huffington Post today reported that Cvjetanovic, 24, who also goes by Peter Cytanovic, was expelled from the Nevada National Guard in December after a background check revealed his extremist past.
Cvjetanovic had yet to attend basic training.
The Huffington Post reported, “A spokesman for the Nevada National Guard confirmed that Cytanovic enlisted on Nov. 22, 2019, but that his stint in the U.S. armed forces lasted only a little over a year — and that he was ejected because of his ‘affiliations.’”
According to the report, the military’s initial criminal and fingerprint check didn’t turn up anything that might exclude Cvjetanovic from serving. He was able to enlist as a Specialist E-4–the highest rank available to junior enlisted recruits–because of his four-year degree, and attended monthly drills to prepare for basic training.
Lt. Col. Mickey Kirschenbaum, a public affairs officer for the Nevada National Guard, told the Post that as routine processing progressed Cjvetanovic was unable to obtain security clearance. That’s when a Defense Department background check revealed Cvjetanovic had been the subject of an FBI investigation.
“The Nevada National Guard does not tolerate racist, extremist ideology,” Kirschenbaum told the Post. “The Nevada National Guard took action immediately after discovering Mr. Cytanovic’s affiliations.”
A photo of Cvjetanovic angrily yelling among a crowd of demonstrators carrying tiki torches at the “Unite the Right” rally quickly went viral in August 2017, spurring outrage across the country, and eventually in other countries. Hundreds of marchers chanted at the rally, “Jews will not replace us.”
This Is Reno reported on the local outrage at the time, which included calls for Cvjetanovic to be expelled from the university. University officials condemned the violence of the rally, which included one death and 19 injuries after James Fields, Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, drove through a counter protest.
However, then-UNR President Marc Johnson said the school had no legal basis for an expulsion.
Cvjetanovic quit his job on campus.
In an interview with KTVN, news channel 2, following the August 2017 rally, Cvjetanovic said, “I hope people acknowledge that being a party to the alternative right does not make me an evil Nazi, and that being pro-white right now is dangerous, and being pro-white doesn’t mean I’m anti-anyone else.”
Since then, Cvjetanovic has tried to walk back some of his white nationalist rhetoric and activities.
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with 20 years’ experience working in communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. In her free time, she is a volunteer backpacking guide along the Tahoe Rim Trail, an avid home cook and baker, cyclist, wife and stepmom.