Marine Booted From Corps For Flying White Nationalist Banner Amid Crackdown On Extremism

news
The banner unfired by active-duty Marines Joseph Manning and Michael Chesny in Graham, North Carolina, in May 2017.
Photo via YouTube

One of two active-duty Marines arrested in May for hanging a white nationalist banner during a Confederate Memorial Day celebration has been booted from the service, Marine Corps Times reported on Sept. 12 — one month after violent clashes between neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and counter-protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked worries of extremism festering within the U.S. armed forces.


Staff Sgt. Joseph Manning, of the Marine Corps Engineer School at Camp Lejeune, was charged with first-degree trespassing after unfurling a banner with the letters “YWNRU” — short for “You Will Not Replace Us,” the favorite maxim of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa established by Marine vet Nathan Damigo in 2016. Manning had mounted the flag in Graham, North Carolina, across from town’s historic courthouse during a rally by Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, a neo-Confederate group.

Manning, a Purple Heart recipient who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is currently “in the process of being administratively separated,” a Training and Education Command spokesman told Marine Corps Times. Sgt. Michael Chesny, the EOD technician from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point who drove hours with Manning across North Carolina to participate in the stunt, has already been slapped with an administrative punishment.

Though both Manning and Chesny are set to return to Graham for adjudication in October, it’s unclear how the military’s investigation (which remains private as part of Chesny’s administrative proceedings) will shape the Marines’ appearance in civilian court.

“Once the investigation is complete, the commanding officer’s action can range from taking no action and letting the civilian authorities prosecute the case, to administrative actions such as formal admonishment, non-judicial punishment or administrative separation from the service,” an MCAS spokesman stated after the Marines’ arrests in May.

News of Manning’s separation comes almost exactly one month after a protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville sparked violent clashes between counter-protesters and the neo-Nazis and white nationalists who flocked to the Virginia city to “unite the right” on Aug. 11. The clashes culminated with James Alex Fields, a one-time Army washout, allegedly running down peaceful counter-protesters with his 2005 Dodge Challenger, killing one and leaving dozens injured.

Despite his deeply unimpressive stint in the military, Fields’ part in the bloody weekend sparked national anxiety over the relationship between the military community and the rising tide of right-wing extremists. Dillon Ulysses Hopper, leader of the Vanguard America neo-Nazi hate group whose members were photographed alongside Fields in Charlottesville, served as a Marine recruiter despite publicly espousing white nationalist views; Damigo, the Marine vet and founder of Identity Evropa, had been invited to speak by the “Unite the Right” organizers.

Nathan Damigo, a former Marine and convicted felon is the founder of a white nationalist group, Identity Evropa. He is one of the organizers of a demonstration that led to racially charged violence during the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.Photo via Facebook

The concerns over recruiting within the ranks are not unfounded: The number of white supremacist or neo-Nazi hate groups operating in the U.S. has increased dramatically in the last two decades, and the FBI warned in a 2008 report that various far-right extremist leaders were “making a concerted effort to recruit active-duty soldiers and recent combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” adding that “those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.”

In the month since Charlottesville, the DoD has followed the example of its European counterparts in attempting to root out extremists within its ranks. DoD brass have moved quickly to remind the public that the extremist ideology on display in Charlottesville is not only antithetical to the American values, but explicitly prohibited under branch regulations, while military recruiters have been trained to recognize distinctive tattoos — lightning bolts, swastikas, hobnailed boots, and the like — that may belie a neo-Nazi ideology among potential recruits.

“The Department of Defense’s strength comes from those that serve their nation every day honorably and with distinction,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick told Stars and Stripes one week after the Charlottesville clashes. “Association or participation with hate or extremist groups of any kind violates the Department of Defense’s core values of duty, integrity, ethics, honor, courage, and loyalty. We take any and all allegations of misconduct very seriously.”

The punishment of Manning and Chesny may represent the first major actions taken by the military justice system to help root out extremism after the tragedy in Charlottesville. The Corps’ decision to bounce the former for his embrace of white supremacy may indicate that the Pentagon truly is, as Haverstick said, taking the problem of extremism in the ranks seriously.

WATCH NEXT:

The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.

"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."

"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.

"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vaughan Dill/Released)

The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.

Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.

Read More Show Less

The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.

We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.

Read More Show Less

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."

"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"

Read More Show Less