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Charlottesville violence: These Twitter ‘vigilantes’ are naming and shaming white supremacists

Hundreds of white men marched through the University of Virginia campus, holding torches and chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2017 14:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Charlottesville,Virginia,US racism
A man makes a slashing motion across his throat towards counter-protesters as he marches with other white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. (AFP Photo)

An activist in the US state of North Carolina has made it his mission to expose the white supremacists, who took part in the protest march in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday.

Logan Smith sought to crowdsource the identities of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan supporters, and white supremacists on his Twitter account - Yes, You’re Racist - hours after they gathered in Charlottesville against the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee.

“If you recognize any of the Nazis marching in #Charlottesville, send me their names/profiles and I’ll make them famous,” Smith tweeted on Saturday.

Responses soon poured in and in a few days, several participants of the protest had been identified.

Among them was Cole White, who was reportedly fired by his employer the Top Dog hot dog restaurant chain in Berkeley, California, and a man was publically disowned by his family for being a participant.

A 20-year-old student Peter Cvjetanovic was also named and shamed on social media but he defended his right to attend the rally, BBC reported on Tuesday.

“If they’re really so proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with white supremacists and neo-Nazis then I think that their communities need to know who these people are,” Smith told MSNBC on Tuesday.

Smith, who reportedly works as a spokesperson for Progress North Carolina Action, isn’t alone. Others, including journalists, have chimed in to find out who the far-Right protesters were.

Senior New York Daily News justice writer posted a video on Twitter saying: “We are looking for the Nazi in the sunglasses and the white shirt. Here his friend clearly calls him ‘Doug.’”

More than 2800 miles away, Silicon Valley companies GoDaddy Inc, Alphabet’s Google, security firm CloudFlare, and other technology companies moved this week to block hate groups after violence in Virginia.

Internet domains, including the Russian RU-CENTRE, blocked the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which helped organise the protest in Charlottesville, CNN reported. The website cheered the death of a 32-year-old woman, who was killed, and 19 people injured when a vehicle drove into counter-protesters.

Vice News posted a 22-minute video on Monday that followed a white nationalist Chris Cantwell as the group marched through Charlottesville. The documentary, which has 4,455,910 views and more than 18,000 comments on YouTube, shows the participants of the alt-Right march shouting slogans against Jews and “criminal n****s”.

Vox listed out some of their slogans to make a statement after US President Donald Trump said on Charlottesville that both sides (white supremacists and counter protesters) were at fault for the violence.

Here are some of the chants:

“Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!”

“This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal n*****s! That’s exactly what it is.” “And that’s true, by the way.”

In response to the video, Cantwell was banned by online dating site Ok Cupid for life.

Mistaken identities, doxxing

Activists’ decision to fight hate crimes through crowd sourcing as a method to collect data can be unreliable.

A professor in Arkansas said he was mistakenly identified as one of the hundreds of protesters at the far-Right rally. Professor Kyle Quinn’s received a flood of threats despite his justifications on Twitter.

According to Mashable, Yes, You’re Racist also mistook pro-Trump comedian Joey Salads, who claimed to be denouncing Nazis by wearing a Swastika at another Trump rally as a participant in Charlottesville.

Multiple white nationalist groups march with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville. (AP Photo)

Critics have spoken against doxxing or publishing the details of an anonymous social media user and said it can expose people to possible harassment.

But reports say Smith is aware of the risks and despite the threats, he is willing to expose the neo-Nazis, KKK and white supremacists.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 14:20 IST