Turlock university copes with white supremacy uproar

Nathan Damigo, California State University, Stanislaus, student
Nathan Damigo, California State University, Stanislaus, student

News that a leader in a white supremacist movement is attending California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock has caused an uproar. But social science major Nathan Damigo says he is trying to start a conversation about respect for European heritage and the need for a white homeland.

Fliers about Damigo, 30, appeared on campus last week, using information posted on It’s Going Down, a website dedicated generally to civic rebellion, or as it puts it, “We support liberatory revolt.”

“While Damigo has been majoring in social studies at CSU Stanislaus, he’s also been busy building up one of the fastest growing white supremacist groups in the U.S.,” the It’s Going Down site says. The fliers were taken down and no supremacist activities or hate crimes have been reported, Stanislaus State officials said Wednesday.

Reached by phone Thursday, Damigo said he has not been posting his “Let’s Become Great Again” posters, featuring the face of Michelangelo’s David, on the Turlock campus. But he said he did travel to 25 to 30 other colleges in the past two weeks, “to make a space safe to talk about things that make people uncomfortable. We want to talk about race, too.”

Damigo created the Identity Evropa organization, which has 4,723 followers on its Twitter page. It devotes a page to Project Siege, posted Oct. 2, giving strategies to turn university students against the “cultural Marxist narrative” and “create space for our ideas.”

The Evropa website gives an Oakdale post office box as its headquarters but does not name its leaders. The site uses Greek and Renaissance male statues as its imagery and includes links to materials touting the superiority of whites and genetic inferiority of other races.

Damigo, a former Marine released with an other than honorable discharge, served two tours in Iraq and said he suffered a flashback after returning stateside. “I flipped out on this guy. Certainly not my finest hour,” he said. He spent around two years incarcerated for assault and emerged with a new perspective.

“I took the time to reflect, educate myself,” Damigo said. Looking forward, the junior said, “What I want to do is something working on the culture, changing the way people see the world.”

Fundamental to his world view is that mixing cultures and races is a bad thing, he said. “This idea that diversity is a good thing has just been made up.”

Students and others immediately took to social media regarding the fliers, prompting a response from the university, unusual for views expressed around campus.

A letter from President Ellen Junn, posted on the university website Wednesday, takes a different view, but says all students are entitled to their opinions.

“It must be recognized that the University represents a microcosm of our society at large. As such, we cannot withdraw or suppress the viewpoints of others that do not violate the law or campus policy, nor is it in the best interest of the learning experience to do so,” Junn writes.

“Though it may be difficult to hear disparate viewpoints, it is ever more vital to remember that Stanislaus State and the CSU have an obligation and commitment to the founding principles of our American democracy – a democracy that upholds the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech, even when that speech may be controversial or offensive to others,” she says.

The letter also says the university is consulting with the CSU Chancellor’s Office on next steps.

Nan Austin: 209-578-2339, @NanAustin