Charlottesville is steeling itself for what is likely coming, as the one-year mark of the pernicious and bloodthirsty Unite the Right, or white power, rally approaches.
Wednesday the Commonwealth of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville declared states of emergency with the National Guard on standby. CNN reported the Virginia Department of Emergency Management is preparing for a “statewide event” as ‘Unite the Right 2’ is planned.
As the home of the University of Virginia braces for the violence that may be headed its way, news broke that a U.S Marine, who not only participated in the deadly violence in Charlottesville a year ago but bragged about being there and attacked a female counter-protester, shared advance planning online, often in plain view, was dishonorably discharged for his involvement.
Marine Lance Corporal Vasillios George Pistolis, 19, was “treated as low-level offender by military authorities, who tried him at what is known as a summary court martial, which is akin to a misdemeanor trial,” ProPublica and Frontline reported in June.
The teen spent 28 days in a military jail, lost pay and was finally booted, albeit quietly.
Pistolis marched with white supremacists and boasted about “drop-kicking” a woman at the rally and “cracking heads.” He has a history of extremist views known because he’d left a clear boot-print all over the internet. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of videos, photographs, screenshots, posts, comments, threads, chats and more across dozens of platforms on the everyday web and the dark one via the Tor browser, the latter nonetheless easily accessible. He changed his handles often, deleted and then recreated pages, but does not appear to have been hiding very well; Pistolis’ views are in plain sight. Or were.
Indeed, a voluminous and copiously researched file was presented months ago to the military and largely ignored. That compilation, a dossier of sorts, provided proof that Pistolis was not only a longtime white nationalist and violent extremist, but there was a mountain of photographic and video evidence of his participation in the Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ rally, including graphic Getty images of him beating a counter-demonstrator, that left many wondering why nothing was being done.
It was not until a the ProPublica and Frontline report this past spring, with information from a exhaustive report by Edward Beck, that led to a military investigation, Pistolis,’ court martial and ultimately, being discharged from the military dishonorably.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pistolis Signed up With the Marines as an JROTC Cadet in His Charlotte, NC High School in 2012
The Voice, a Greek-American newspaper in Charlotte featured Pistolis in its 2016 high school grads feature.
Known parenthetically as ‘Billy’ in the newspaper blurb, he’s the son of George and Vivi Pistolis.
He was a member of the Marine Corps Junior ROTC (MCJROTC) in all four years at Ardrey Kell High School. The paper said he was “very active in soccer” having played in school and community leagues since he was around nine or 10. Notably now given the physical violence he was captured participating in on video, Pistolis is “trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and participated in several competitions, where he has placed First and Second in separate events.”
The Voice was proud to announce in 2016 that Pistolis “enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and will be leaving for boot camp at Parris Island, SC in July.”
2. Already an Avowed White Supremacist, Pistolis’ History of Extremism is Well-Documented, Including by the Marine Himself
So in July of 2016, off he goes to the Marine Corps. He’d already left a trail of clues and outright claims, including photographs, video, and memes of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, racist, anti Semitic, homophobic, and misogynistic white nationalism.
When Pitolis was around 13 years old, he’s already been recruited. “I got brought into when it was the trad youth by a guy named Daxter Reed does anyone know what ever happen to him,” he asked in a chat room for fellow white nationalists. The Trad Youth was the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party youth group. We’ll get to that shortly.
ProPublica and Frontline cited Beck’s reporting and “exhaustive dossier” on the “evolution” the teen’s “racist worldview” which culminated in his violent participation in the deadly white power melee in Charlottesville, and leading up to that, him confronting an interracial couple in Tennessee.
3. Pistolis Posted Detailed Plans Online For the Charlottesville White Nationalist Storm. He Named ‘Enemies’ & Dicated Violence
Pistoris’ Unite the Right so called, “pre-game” torch march video.
“If you bring a mask don’t wear it, just keep it in your pocket. I’d say put it on only if shit breaks out but other than that don’t wear one.”
Pistolis also provided a what-to-do and how-to for Charlottesville on the Daily Stormer. This archived page is all that’s left of the now-deleted Stoerm content and Facebook instructions. Pistolis wrote, “So for those that don’t know a “Unite the Right Free Speech Rally” Will be held in Charlottesville,Va on August 12th from 12pm-5pm EST, having infiltrated leftist circles hence why I have gone quiet for some time here is recon of the situation for you guys attending. All info is based on my research and rumors from leftists who claim they infiltrated us any false info please PM me so that I can fix. KEY FIGURES – Micheal Signer – Charlottesville mayor, Democrat, Possible Jew, Denounced the Rally, Obviously Anti-nationalist.”
He shared these details, for example, “Enemies likely to show up,” and this list: Our guys going; Jason Kessler (he organized it); Matthew Heimbach (TWP will be there most likely if he goes); Based Stickman; Baked Alaska; Richard Spencer [confirmed as of 6/17/17]; Proud boys [confirmed as of 6/17/17]; Identity Evropa [confirmed as of 6/17/17]; Fraternal Order of the Alt- Knights [confirmed as of 6/17/17]; and Various Stormers.” He also shared strategies on how to fight counter-protestors: “All of them work with each other but their tactics are easily countered if you just get rid of the protesters leaving nothing but the soldiers and stranded agitators left.”
When speaking about Black Lives Matter, his hate rehtoric and slurs are sickening: “They are ni**ers no tactics to be involved just expect “muh dik”, “fuggen cragga”, “Bix nood”, etc. Ni**ers are violent especially BLM negros and their white enablers these baboons should not be under estimated BLM has proven to be just as violent and antifas ‘black bloc.'”
Pistolis shared the special flags he had made, one an amalgam of the Confederate flag and the Nazi Sonnenrad symbol he said he made just for the Charlottesville rally.
He had visited, registered, and posted from myriad websites, platforms, chat rooms, social media pages, many only accessible using a Tor browser and many others, videos, posts and comments on traditional mainstream platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Twitter have largely been scrubbed or deleted.
Leading up to the rally, he and others discussed fighting counter-protestors and Pistolis said he’d be prepared to kill, “maybe even sodomize someone with a knife …if shit goes down.”
4. In Charlottesville, Pistolis Made His Presence Known & Felt. He Admitted & is Photographed ‘Cracking Heads’ in the ‘Best Fight of my Life’
‘VasillistheGreek’ wrote, “Today cracked 3 skulls open with virtually no damage to myself.”
Pistolis wrote on the chat exactly what he’d be wearing at the rally-cum-riot and again, he’d been either naively open or emboldened. Regardless, he was easy to spot in an Adidas track suit with very visible white lines on the sleeves. And spotted he was at the center of a number of violent clashes in photographs and videos taken by major media, rally participants and bystanders. Pistolis is omnipresent.
Rodney Dummmings’ Instagram and Flickr, the New York Times; YouTube channel, in his own videos, the originals deleted but copies were made before they were scrubbed. One of Getty Images ‘top shots’ was of Pistolis, though he’s not named and there are many in the image. Still, there he was.
Pistolis throws himself into the melee and at around the 5 minute mark, in the fracas, the Adidas track suit can be seen with Pistolis in it.
Best fight of my life,” he wrote.
5. Trained & Aligned With Atomawaffen, When Pistolis Was Finally Outed, Many Questioned How it Was Possible He’d Remained a Marine
After that weekend where he “cracked heads,” Pistolis went back to base in North Carolina. No questions asked. Did anyone notice?
Beck wrote, “I reported Pistolis to the Nashville Police and Marine Corps military police. I told Camp Lejeune’s PMO duty, and then a CID investigator, that Pistolis had been a white supremacist for years, had also committed violence at Charlottesville, and that I had evidence to turn over. The Marine Corps never called back. So I kept digging.”
Months after Charlottesville, Pistolis was posting away in a Discord chat room, Charlottsville 2.0, resurrected by and saved by Unicorn Riot.
“The nationalist front is the only group actually doing something and the only group willing to work with others,” he wrote in December of 2017. He posted images of himself and others at around the same time. Vicious racist and anti Semitic memes. The U.S Marine wrote on Dec. 3, he believes the “solution (is) let the sand niggers destroy the kikes then we destroy the sand people.”
On Dec. 6, he wrote that being in the military was good for the training “now while trump is president but i’m not in a good situation cause of Shelbyville someone named dropped me to my chain of command.” He’s likely referring to the video of him in Tennessee verbally attacking and threatening an interracial couple.
“I’m in some serious trouble cause of Shelbyville and shit so uncle sam isn’t happy with me at the moment …Not gonna lie if i get kicked out of the military im hoping i can join you TWP guys cause i don’t have much other options.”
Founded in Cincinnati in 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center says the Traditionalist Workers Party is a neo-Nazi hate group. The TWP describes its mission: “Now is not the time for unity. It’s not the time for love. It’s a time for disunity and for hate. It’s time to hate the migrant communities harboring this lethal threat. It’s time to hate the (((oligarchs))) who create those communities. And if there’s any hate in your heart remaining, invest it in the fools who are smiling and clapping along with the need for more ‘unity,’ ‘inclusion,’ and ‘love’ in the face of this existential threat to our nations, our peoples, and our future generations.”
—Matthew Parrott on Traditional Youth Network, 2016, using the triple parentheses or “echoes,” often used by anti-Semites to indicate Jews.
From June of 2017 until his last post on March 10, Pitolis, “VasilistheGreek” posted nearly 1,000 messages inside the chat to fellow neo-Nazi’s, a lot of which included white supremacist group infighting. And despite earlier conjecture that he was just brazenly posting, Pistolis declines to name which branch of the military he’s in and worries because “I literally went under FBI investigation for domestic terrorism for being “associated with the TWP.” I’m not joking I still have the agents business card.” (Misspellings have been corrected for clarity.)
So maybe the military wasn’t on to him, but the FBI was, he claims. Interestingly, he says that since the TWP “is a registered party,” he’s lucky because otherwise, he’d “be sitting in military jail right now or on my way to a dishonorable discharge.” Not then, but eight months later, yes.
The Marines were presented plenty of evidence. Pistolis was not only linked to, but trained with, Atomwaffen Division, an armed, guerrilla warfare white nationalist group preparing for a race war.
ProPublica reported it had an inside look at the group including “seven months of messages from a confidential chat room used by the group’s members. The chat logs, as well as interviews with a former member, reveal Atomwaffen has attracted a mixture of young men — fans of fringe heavy metal music, a private investigator, firearms aficionados — living in more than 20 states.”
Minnesota Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison wrote to Defense Secretary James Mattis in May about the ProPublica and Frontline report that found three active duty military connected to Atomawaffen, the group stands accused in five murders.
“Three Atomawaffen members or associates who are currently employed by the Army or Navy. The involvement of service members in white supremacist organizations or other hate groups is cause for significant concern, particularly given their combat and weapons training,” Ellison wrote. “I am concerned these actions may be indicative of a broader problem within the military.”
The Military Times reported this week that he was thrown out of the Marines. While he was sentenced before a military court in June after the ProPublica report came out. He was formally charged with “making false statements and disobeying a regulation.” He served his very short jail sentence and then on July 11 was separated from the Corps.”
And that was it.
A user on the alt-right social media platform Gab.ai said that while it’s regrettable he was thrown out of the military, he is now free to be a neo-Nazi without trying to hide his actions from the Marines, if in fact he ever was.
“It’s unfortunate this Marine had his military career ended. On the other hand he is now free to pursue his interests unhindered by the military code of conduct. Oorah.”
Indeed, it’s been widely reported that while perhaps the upper echelon takes extremism seriously, there may have been a blind (or winking) eye at the rank-and-file level.
A Military Times poll found that one out of every four military members encounter white nationalism; it’s not at all uncommon.