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GOP sen. on student at 'alt-right' protest: 'No room' for 'those kind of feelings' at Nevada college

After a photo outed a University of Nevada, Reno student as one of the white nationalist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) said in an on-camera interview that "I don't think there's any room for a student at UNR to have those kind of feelings and to be pushing this agenda.” (Image source: Twitter video screenshot)

After a photo outed a University of Nevada, Reno student as one of the "alt-right" demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Republican U.S. senator from Nevada said in an on-camera interview, "I don't think there's any room for a student at UNR to have those kind of feelings and to be pushing this agenda.”

The comments from Sen. Dean Heller came amid questions about the deadly demonstrations last weekend and news that UNR student Peter Cvjetanovic was photographed prominently among the chanting, torch-wielding demonstrators.

"That's not what Nevada represents ... that's not how we think out here in my great state, in our great state," Heller told KNRV-TV in an interview posted to Twitter on Monday. "I was very, very disappointed to learn that any Nevadan would have participated in an ordeal like that."

Heller told the station: “I do denounce his feelings on this, the fact that he was there. I don’t think there’s any room for it, and I don't think there's any room for a student at UNR to have those kind of feelings and to be pushing this agenda.”

TheBlaze on Friday reached out to Heller's office to ask if he wants Cvjetanovic gone from UNR and how a student's "feelings" or philosophical stance can be enforced on campus — or even punished. Heller's office didn't immediately reply.

As repugnant as racism is, the First Amendment allows American citizens to hold repugnant views. Of course, it's illegal to discriminate, deny rights, threaten or exact violence, but when one can be punished for "feelings" or beliefs on an issue, then someone else's "feelings" or beliefs on another subject could be penalized as well.

"The community's outrage I can completely understand ... and frankly [I] support the outrage that someone here in the state of Nevada would be in Charlottesville participating in activities like that," Heller said to KNRV. "There's just absolutely no room for it, and I refuse to support anything that they were doing."

Here's video of Heller's comments to the station:

Marc A. Johnson, president of the University of Nevada, Reno, issued a statement Sunday about Cvjetanovic's presence in Charlottesville, KNRV-TV said, and it didn't indicate he'd receive any discipline:

We have been witness to the violence that has taken place this weekend during the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. One of the marchers photographed has been identified as a University of Nevada, Reno student.

Racism and white supremacist movements have a corrosive effect on our society. These movements do not represent our values as a university. We denounce any movement that targets individuals due to the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual orientation, ability/disability, or whether they were born in our country. 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.

The University of Nevada, Reno is a caring and safe community of students and employees from a broad range of backgrounds with differing beliefs. This community will not be divided by hateful language and violence. Our learning environment respects the right to freely express views and debate openly in civil discourse. There will be clashes of beliefs and opinions, but they must be peaceful. As a community, we abhor violence and it has no place on our campus. If we are to come to greater understanding of each other, it will be through open, honest, non-violent discussion and exploration of all ideas. Educating ourselves on the other's point of view is the key to understanding and peaceful co-existence.

The tragedy that occurred this weekend in Virginia is an important reminder that we must recognize the perspectives of all individuals. Peaceful assembly and exchange of ideas is part of the bedrock of any free society. We will maintain a commitment to the safe, peaceful expression and exchange of ideas on our campus.

That didn't sit well with the writer of a Change.org petition demanding that UNR expel Cvjetanovic — and it's attracted over 35,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

“The University of Nevada, Reno is as racist as white supremacist Peter Cvjetanovic,” the petition reads, adding that UNR "has condemned the actions that took place in Charlottesville. Yet, UNR has also refused to give Peter Cvjetanovic any consequences for his actions ... I argue that inaction, when you are in a position of power, is as good as not caring."

Cvjtanovic's freshman year roommate, Ed Donofrio, told KNRV that Cvjtanovic "once told a person of color that they deserve to be discriminated against."

But Cvjtanovic, 20 — who confirmed to KNRV that he did attend the demonstration in Charlottesville as seen in the viral photos — said in an interview with the station that he’s not racist despite becoming part of the "alternative right."

He also explained that he's not a white supremacist, but a white nationalist — or more precisely, an "identitarian."

“I personally believe that all cultures and peoples – that includes their languages, their religions, their histories – are under threat with globalism,” he told KNRV, adding that he wants to work with other races to preserve their identities and histories as well.

“I’m not a white supremacist in any sense of the word. I do not believe that whites are inherently superior in any way to any other race," Cvjtanovic told the station. "I know a lot of stupid whites and I know a lot of really intelligent Indians and Asians … On the average of all races, we’re the same."

Cjetanovic added to KNRV that he intends to continue to attend UNR for his senior year, even in the face of multiple death threats and efforts to expel him.

This story has been updated.

(H/T: EAGNews)

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