UPDATE Aug. 15, 2017: The father of one of the Charlottesville, Virginia white supremacist marchers who was identified through photos on social media said he has disowned his son until he "renounces hate."
After the Virginia protests turned violent last weekend, Twitter users including @YesYoureRacist took off on a mission to identify the marchers who attended the "Unite the Right" rally. One of the people identified was Peter Tefft and his father wrote into their Fargo, North Dakota newspaper on Monday to make sure people know that the rest of the Tefft family doesn't agree with Peter Tefft's views, calling him "an avowed white nationalist."
"I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son's vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions," Pearce Tefft wrote in a letter to The Forum newspaper. "We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home."
Pearce Tefft said he believes in equality and opened his house to "friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed."
Pearce Tefft said he had to set the record straight because images of his son at the white nationalist protests "are bringing hateful rhetoric to his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews as well as his parents." Pearce Tefft begged his son to renounce his hateful views, but said he would not be welcome in the family home.
"Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all," he said.
Originally published Aug. 14, 2017: Torch-wielding white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, stirred up memories of the violent KKK-led protests of the Jim Crow-era South, but unlike their white-hooded brothers of decades past, these ralliers didn’t bother to cover their faces, and Twitter has made it its mission to find out who they are.
Since images of the violent two-day protest started going viral on Friday, a group of Twitter users, led by the YesYoureRacist account, have been working diligently to discover the identities of the marchers at the Unite the Right protest, which drew ralliers from white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. The protests ended in tragedy when one of the alt-right demonstrators plowed his Dodge Charger into a crowd of peaceful counterprotesters on Saturday, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounding 20 others.
This first person rallying with the Unite The Right who was exposed by YesYoureRacist was fired from his job at Top Dog, a restaurant in Berkeley, California.
“Cole White, the first person I exposed, no longer has a job,” @YesYoureRacist announced via Twitter Sunday morning.
The restaurant said it had been inundated with inquiries regarding an “incident involving one of our employees that attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia,” and in a statement said that White had been fired.
Another of the first to be identified Saturday was 20-year-old college student Peter Cvjetanovic, a student at the University of Nevada Reno.
An image of an enraged-looking Cvjetanovic clutching a torch and screaming was an early viral image from the rallies, and Cvjetanovic told his local Reno news station that he “did 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.”
YesYoureRacist has been on a mission to "expose casual racism" on Twitter since 2012, and the account has amassed 323,000 followers.
Identifying participants of a public rally by name doesn’t violate Twitter’s terms of service, though publishing private information like an address, phone number or social security number would. And, while free speech is indeed guaranteed under the Constitution, private employers are well within their rights to fire you for something you’ve said or done either online or in the streets.
Still, not everyone on Twitter is comfortable with outing the white nationalist protestors; YesYoureRacist has even started getting threats from the alt-right base on 4Chan.