RENO, Nev. — Of the hundreds of pictures Samuel Corum took the night of Aug. 11 on the campus of the University of Virginia, it was University of Nevada, Reno student Peter Cytanovic’s face that stood out.
The image has become the face of the “Unite the Right” rally and spurred a debate on the University of Nevada, Reno campus about the freedom of speech and the code of conduct of students.
Cytanovic, who was identified in a photograph, was a participant in the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally that protested the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Corum works for the Anadolu Agency, a news agency in Turkey, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports (http://on.rgj.com/2uVNGZP ).
Corum has covered the Ferguson riots in Missouri, the opening of the U.S Embassy in Havana, Cuba and the aftermath of the Pulse Night Club Shooting in Florida. He is former photographer for the Marines and did two tours of duty in Iraq.
Corum and Cytanovic remember the moment the now famous photograph was taken.
In an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal, Cytanovic said he identifies as an identitarian, an umbrella subset of white nationalists. He said he went to Charlottesville to defend what he believes is an attack on white culture and to look out for white European interests in the United States.
Cytanovic said his plan was to march silently, listen to speakers and leave. But when the crowd started to chant, Cytanovic joined in.
When the photo was taken, the crowd had stopped marching and there were shouting matches between the organized march and counter protesters, he said.
People were shouting that they did not want the protesters there, Cytanovic said.
“I got caught in the heat of the moment,” he said. “There is no excuse for what I did.”
Assigned to cover the Saturday rally, Corum started hearing about a less publicized march planned Friday night.
Corum went to campus to wait that Friday. Shortly after 9 p.m., crowds of people with Tiki torches started arriving, he said.
There were not a lot of major news outlets covering what started to unfold as hundreds of people began to march and chant, “You will not replace us,” Corum said.
Corum said he took hundreds of pictures of people. Some held their hands up to their face, but he was most surprised how many did not care about being photographed.
“It was an element of America that a lot of Americans deny and think doesn’t exist,” Corum said.