LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — The father of one of the organizers of a demonstration that led to racially charged violence during the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, is disavowing his son's racist views.
Peter Lodge, a professor at the University of Maine at Augusta, tells the Sun Journal (http://bit.ly/2uMOmwu) he doesn't support the white nationalist views of his son, Nathan Damigo.
"In no way do I support any racist organization. I have spent my life trying to bring people of all groups together regardless of race or sexual preference, to make the world better," Lodge said.
The 31-year-old Damigo moved from Maine to California with his mother after his parents split when he was a few months old. But Damigo returned to Maine to visit in the summers.
The former Marine and convicted felon is the founder of a white nationalist group, Identity Evropa. He has said his group engages in peaceful, First Amendment-protected protests, but he punched a woman in April during a brawl at a protest in Berkeley, California.
The Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally ended in bloodshed Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd of demonstrators, killing a 32-year-old woman.
Damigo's grandmother, Frances Lodge of Minot, said she believes her grandson's white nationalist views were shaped by his military service in Iraq and his time in a California prison. She said he read a book written by white supremacists David Duke while in prison.
"This is not what we expected. This is not what we believe. But we love him anyway," she told the newspaper.