A Stanislaus State University student from Oakdale is a central figure in Saturday’s white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville that turned violent.
Nathan Damigo, 31, was arrested and released soon after being detained for misdemeanor failure to obey police, he said in a 13-minute rant posted on social media following the bloody clashes with counter protesters, which sparked widespread outrage. He has vowed to sue the city and established an online account to raise legal funds.
“This is a huge victory for us,” Damigo said in the post on his Twitter account. “We are going to get national attention.”
Damigo, a former Marine and convicted felon, drove headlines in April for cold-cocking a young woman with a blow to the face during a Berkeley melee caught on video that went viral. He is the founder of Identity Evropa, a group proclaiming superiority of European heritage, and had been invited to address the crowd gathered in a Charlottesville Park to protest removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, before Saturday’s bloodshed.
Stanislaus State launched an investigation in Turlock and Berkeley after the April clash, university president Ellen Junn said then in a statement. The university on Monday did not respond to media inquiries on the latest violence. Damigo is studying social science, his website says.
In Virginia on Saturday, a woman was killed and 19 people injured when a white supremacist plowed into a crowd of counter demonstrators, and two state police pilots perished when their helicopter crashed while apparently monitoring the event.
President Donald Trump drew pointed criticism for blaming “many sides” for the violence, prompting another statement Monday that finally condemned “criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.”
Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally was meant to unify various white nationalist factions against unidentified enemies, Damigo said in his video Saturday. He said he and others invited to speak at the event were about to go on stage when police shut it down, saying people were unlawfully assembled, Damigo said, despite his group having obtained a federal court order allowing the rally a day before.
“Let’s sue these bastards!” Damigo said in a Tweet asking for donations to the “Nathan Damigo Civil Rights Defense Fund.” As of Monday afternoon, 190 donors had pledged $8,550.
He wants to sue Charlottesville because police violated demonstrators’ rights, Damigo said in his video. He did not respond to multiple interview requests placed via Twitter messaging, his website and Identity Evropa’s website.
“These idiots have screwed up bad,” Damigo said in the video, with a caption reading “Tyranny in Charlottesville.”
“We are not giving up,” he said. “We will not tuck tail and run. ... We are not going to stop protesting the replacement of our people, our heritage and our culture.”
Another rally organizer, Jason Kessler, posted a similar request for money under the title “Unite the Right Legal Defense Fund.” As of 4:30 p.m. Monday, 54 people had pledge $2,868. Both sites set goals of $50,000.
Damigo was raised in the Bay Area and his family later moved to Oakdale. He served two tours with the Marines in Iraq before being less than honorably discharged and serving a prison sentence for armed robbery of a cab driver in Southern California whom he mistook for an Iraqi after a night of heavy drinking, reported KQED, which conducted several interviews with the Oakdale man after the violent Berkeley clash.
Damigo studied white supremacy ideology while behind bars, KQED reported, including the ideas of David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader who attended the Charlottesville event and who urged people via Twitter to contribute to Kessler’s account.
If allowed to speak, Damigo said in his video, he would have thanked counter demonstrators for giving white nationalists – despite ideological disagreements among their own factions – a reason to come together.
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(Excerpts from Nathan Damigo’s video posted Saturday on Twitter)
I am OK. I know I look a little disheveled.
Police wouldn’t let us on stage. They started making announcements that we were unlawfully assembled, which was not true.
I as well as several others decided we were not going to leave. We were well aware of our rights.
This was a clear-cut case of tyranny. ... I’m shocked that they did this. ... Over my dead body are we going to tuck tail and run.