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US military leaders have roundly rebuked the deadly violence that unfolded at the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, and a US Marine general specifically called out a former service member believed to be involved with a white supremacist group.
“No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC,” Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, tweeted Tuesday, referencing former Marine recruiter Dillon Ulysses, who is believed to have been tied to the white supremacist group, Vanguard America, multiple news outlets reported on Wednesday. “Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act,” Neller said.
Separately, the official Twitter account for the 82nd Airborne Division, one of the US Army’s renowned infantry units, addressed an unrelated image of a man who wore a hat bearing the division’s emblem while rendering what appeared to be a KKK salute. The man’s identity was not immediately known.
The image has been retweeted about 30,000 times since Saturday, and it circulated across military groups in social-media channels.
“Respectfully, anyone who thinks this man represents our culture and values has never worn the maroon beret…and never will,” the 82nd Airborne Division tweeted, referring to the image.
The account added: “Our WWII Airborne forefathers jumped into Europe to defeat Nazism. We know who we are. We know our legacy.”
“Anyone can purchase that hat. Valor is earned,” it said.
White nationalists and neo-Nazis descended on Charlottesville over the weekend to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. A rally Saturday quickly descended into brawls between white supremacists and counterprotesters, and one woman was killed when a driver plowed through a crowd of those opposing the rally. Two police officers who were monitoring the situation died in a helicopter crash.
After choosing in a statement Saturday not to specifically call out white supremacists for their responsibility in the weekend’s events, Trump did so in a televised address Monday. But during a freewheeling press conference on Tuesday, Trump returned to his original position, labeling multiple parties as complicit in the Charlottesville unrest and seeming to defend some of those seeking to protest the Confederate statue’s removal.
That move has prompted fierce rebukes from Republicans and Democrats, who have condemned Trump and the white nationalists who praised his Tuesday remarks.
Trump has lauded the US military throughout his campaign and early presidency, and he polled favorably among service members during the beginning of his first term.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated to more accurately reflect the comments of US military leaders who responded to the Charlottesville rally and events surrounding it.]