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A father has publicly denounced his son for holding racist views following his participation in this weekend's violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. My name is Pearce Tefft, and I am writing to all, with regards to my youngest son, Peter Tefft, an avowed white nationalist who has been featured in a number of local news stories over the last several months, the father began inhis letter to the editor, which appeared on the news site Inforum. The younger Tefft was identified on Twitter as a white nationalist attendee of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which turned violent on Saturday. Peter posted photos of himself in Charlottesville and statements about the rally on his Twitter and Facebook profiles.
I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son's vile, hateful, and racist rhetoric and actions, Pearce wrote in his letter. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home. He continued:
Peter Tefft, my son, is not welcome at our family gatherings any longer. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. Then and only then will I lay out the feast. His hateful opinions are bringing hateful rhetoric to his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews as well as his parents. Why must we be guilty by association? Again, none of his beliefs were learned at home. We do not, never have, and never will, accept his twisted worldview.
Jacob Scott, the younger Tefft's nephew, also spoke out against his uncle's pro-white views, telling local Minnesota news outlet WDAY that Peter scares us all. In brief, we reject him wholly-both him personally as a vile person who has HIMSELF made violent threats against our family, and also his hideous ideology, which we abhor. We are all bleeding-heart liberals who believe in the fundamental equality of all human beings, Scott said in a statement. Peter is a maniac, who has turned away from all of us and gone down some insane internet rabbit-hole and turned into a crazy Nazi. He scares us all, we don't feel safe around him, and we don't know how he came to be this way. My grandfather feels especially grieved, as though he has failed as a father. The controversial rally in Charlottesville turned tragic on Saturday after a young Ohio man, 20-year-old James Fields Jr., who isreportedly associated with white supremacistsplowed his car into a group of counterprotesters, injuring 19 and killing one woman, 32-year-old Heather Heyer of Charlottesville. In a post on Facebook, Peter claimed local and state authorities were to blame for violence in Charlottesville. Any blood is on the hands of the police, the city of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia, he wrote. Peter also questioned whether Fields had ties to the alt-right because his mother has a Jewish-sounding name and the alt-right as a movement is very critical of Jews and membership of Jews in the alt-right is frowned upon. Read Pearce Tefft's full letter about his son here.
The two 19-year-olds met this past year while serving, and very quickly knew they'd met the one. After spending much of their relationship FaceTiming, Austin popped the question, and the young missionaries planned a small wedding.
On Friday, August 4, they tied the knot at a U.S. courthouse in Kansas, with plans to have a bigger celebration with friends and family later this year.
They were very much in love, John Bouma, Rebekah's dad, said of the new couple. There was no doubt whatsoever that their love was the real thing. On Saturday, less than 24 hours after making their marriage official, the newlyweds were in a horrific car accident in which they lost control of the truck they were driving, struck an embankment and crashed into a tree just outside of Clearwater, Kansas. Austin was pronounced dead at the scene. Rebekah was transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition. She joined her husband in heaven on Monday. In a Facebook post by Rebekah's mother, Rachel Byker Bouma, the grieving mom asked for prayers for both families:
It is with an unbearably shattered heart that we inform you that our darling daughter, Rebekah Christina, went peacefully into the arms of her loving Savior at 12:32 am, Monday, August 7. She is with the Lord that she loved so deeply and so joyfully and she is with her husband of just one day, Austin Wesson, whom she loved with all her heart. We thank God that they are together while grieving their loss so very deeply.
A family friend has set up a GoFundMe on the couple's behalf to help care for their families during this time. They both loved the Lord, John Bouma said. They wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Austin and Rebekah's love story has a tragic ending. But I'm confident that their work here on earth isn't done yet. Both teens touched the lives of many, and their love for the Lord and each other is inspiring.
Dillon Hopper, the self-styled commander of the Vanguard America group that attacker James Fields marched with, was an officer in the US marine corps
The leader of the neo-Nazi group that James Fields marched with in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday before allegedly killing a protester with his car served in the US marine corps until earlier this year. Dillon Hopper, the self-styled commander of Vanguard America, is a recently retired marine staff sergeant and veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Members of his white supremacist group marched in Virginia last weekend. Hopper, 29, has been using his former name, Dillon Irizarry, when appearing in public for Vanguard America. But he officially changed his name to Dillon Ulysses Hopper in November 2006, according to court records in his native New Mexico. Hoppers active duty with the marines ended in January this year, according to a Department of Defense record. He has lived in California and Ohio since returning to the US. Hoppers full service record could not immediately be obtained. His Facebook avatar is currently a cartoon image of Donald Trump building a wall. Hopper and Vanguard America did not respond to messages seeking comment. Hoppers identity was first reported by Splinter. Fields, a 20-year-old military bootcamp dropout from Maumee, Ohio, has been charged with crimes including murder after allegedly driving his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of people in Charlottesville who were demonstrating against the far-right. The crash killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured about 20 others. Donald Trump finally condemns racism in Charlottesville Fields had been photographed standing among members of Vanguard America earlier in the day. He was pictured holding a shield bearing the groups logo and was wearing the same distinctive outfit white polo shirt and khakis as many Vanguard members. The group has said, however, that Fields is not a member. Vanguard America is only about a year old. It is one of a handful of new white supremacist organizations that are attempting to radicalize young white men across the country. Its manifesto is racist and its website URL references the Nazi slogan blood and soil. The group bars people who are not of white European heritage.
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Dillon Hopper speaking in Pikeville, Kentucky. Photograph: YouTube In an interview with the Guardian in May, a Vanguard America organizer from Texas, who would identify himself only as a vice commander named Thomas, said that a large percentage of Vanguards members are college-aged, and that most are in their early twenties. Members must be aged between 18 and 45. Like Identity Evropa, a similar white nationalist group, Vanguard America seeks to recruit clean-cut, more professional white men, rebranding racist organizing in a preppier image. Visible neck and hand tattoos, for instance, are discouraged, and one organizer said that obese men would be disqualified from joining. We also uphold standards of dress and grooming and physical fitness because our ideology is one of strength and purity and self-improvement, he said. Thomas would not provide any details about the groups process for vetting members, other than to say that it included an interview. A questionnaire once used by the group for screening, which was obtained by the Guardian, asked for details of applicants professions, beliefs and criminal histories. It asked how often they consumed tobacco or alcohol and how long youve been red pilled, a phrase used on the far-right to mean aware of supposed difficult truths. Vanguard America has attracted attention by putting up racist posters on college campuses in areas such as Maryland, Washington DC and Texas. In May, a 23-year-old black college student was stabbed to death by a white man on the University of Marylands campus. Richard Collins III, was about to graduate, and had just been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US army. The alleged killer had been part of a Facebook group named Alt-Reich, authorities said. The Vanguard America spokesman objected to links between made between Collinss stabbing and the white nationalist posters that had appeared on campus. There are murders of all ideologies, he said, going on to say: We dont promote this kind of action.
When protesters, angry over the deadly incidents in Virginia this weekend, decided to take down a nearly century-old statue of a Confederate soldier in North Carolina on Monday, law enforcement stood back and watched. At no time did officers with the Durham Police Department or deputies with the Durham County Sheriffs Office intervene as activists brought a ladder up to the statue and used a rope to pull it down, according to multiple media reports. No one was arrested Monday, however, a day later, Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews announced investigators were working to identify the protesters and planned to bring criminal charges against them. We decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority, Andrews said in a statement posted on his agency'swebsite. As the Sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct. He continued: My deputies showed great restraint and respect for the constitutional rights of the group expressing their anger and disgust for recent events in our country. Racism and incivility have no place in our country or Durham. Calls seeking additional comment were not immediately returned Tuesday. The Confederate Soldiers Monument in Durham was dedicated in 1924 and shows a soldier holding a rifle. After it came down, a diverse crowd of dozens cheered, and some even began kicking the crumpled bronze monument. Some took pictures standing or sitting on the toppled soldier, in front of a pedestal inscribed with the words: In Memory of the Boys Who Wore The Gray. The Durham demonstration followed a white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia, during the weekend. One woman was killed Saturday after a man, who police believe was one of the white nationalists, drove his car into a group of peaceful counter-protesters. Although the violence in Virginia has prompted fresh talk by government officials about bringing down symbols of the Confederacy around the South, North Carolina has a law protecting the statues. The 2015 law prevents removing such monuments on public property without permission from state officials. In response to the statue in Durham being torn down, Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted: The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments. After the statue fell, several dozen protesters congregated on the street in front of the old courthouse as police cruisers blocked off the street, and officers looked on some filming the events.