College GOP groups condemn Charlottesville rally amid outcry over state leader’s attendance

Clashes at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. (Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Clashes at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug.12, 2017. (Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Leaders of at least two universities and the national college Republicans organization are moving to denounce white supremacist views after a member of at least one campus GOP chapter appeared to attend at a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend.

“I condemn in the strongest way possible the vile, racist and cowardly acts committed by white supremacists in Charlottesville,” Chandler Thornton, chair of the College Republican National Committee, said in a statement Monday.

Thornton called on any leaders of the organizations with such views to “resign immediately.”

James Allsup, president of the Washington State University College Republicans group, attended the march and spoke briefly. Peter Cvjetanovic, a student at the University of Nevada-Reno, also appeared in a viral photo of march attendees holding torches.

Allsup, a former state chair of the national college Republican group, routinely receives hundreds of thousands of views on videos posted to his YouTube account, which include clips from alt-right events. Allsup didn’t respond to a Yahoo News request for comment Monday, but he told Spokane CBS affiliate KREM that he was attending the event in a media capacity.

He also said an organizer surprised him by asking him to speak at the Unite the Right rally, which was attended by neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members. The event descended into violence Friday night going into Saturday, when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one.

But Allsup also defended aspects of the rally in an interview with the Daily Evergreen, the WSU student paper.

“Allsup said most of the violence at the event was started by the counter protesters, who pepper sprayed a fellow alt-right media figure, Baked Alaska,” the paper reported. “He blames the police for the death and injuries caused by a car plowing into counter protesters, saying that they did not do a good enough job protecting the rally attendees and separating the two groups.”

In a series of tweets, Washington State president Kirk Schulz condemned racism and Nazism, but did not single out Allsup or his campus GOP group.

“We strongly denounce racism & Nazism of any kind & condemn the violence which occurred in Charlottesville,” Schulz said. “Hate has no place at WSU … Universities are places where controversial voices must be heard — even those voices that many in our community disagree with,” he continued.

Peter Cvjetanovic, right, along with neo Nazis, alt-rights and white supremacists, encircle and chant at counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after the group marched through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 11, 2017. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Peter Cvjetanovic, right, along with neo Nazis, alt-rights and white supremacists, encircle and chant at counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after the group marched through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 11, 2017. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Other campuses are grappling with similar issues, including the University of Nevada-Reno, which Cvjetanovic attends.

Cvjetanovic later confirmed to the Reno Review-Journal that he attended the event. He didn’t back down from his white nationalist views.

“I went to honor the heritage of white culture here in the United States,” he told the paper. “I recognize the need to acknowledge both the good and bad of white history as it has made the nation we have now.”

The campus Republican group condemned his views over the weekend, as did the university president, Marc Johnson.

“We are working diligently with the community to address these allegations and would like to clarify that these dangerous beliefs will never have a place in the College Republicans or at the University of Nevada,” UNR College Republicans chair Bethanie Cooper said in a statement posted on the club’s Facebook page.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., also distanced himself from Cvjetanovic after a picture of the two appeared to surface online.

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