A Ridgeville man is out of a job after a New York Times photograph of him standing next to James Alex Fields, Jr.— the man who authorities say killed a 32-year-old woman and injured 19 other people by driving a car through a crowd of counter-protesters — circulated on social media.
Charleston-area residents lambasted Nigel Krofta, 27, on social media Monday for his participation in the Charlottesville white supremacist rally where Heather Heyer, 32, was killed, and two on-duty Virginia state troopers died in a helicopter crash.
White nationalists converged on the college town of Charlottesville last weekend to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a local park. The protesters, bearing torches as they marched through the University of Virginia campus Friday night, comprised neo-Nazis, skinheads and members of the Ku Klux Klan, the Associated Press reported.
"I have been through it all. I am not ashamed of standing for what I believe in," Krofta said Monday in a Facebook message exchange with The Post and Courier. "Every man has a duty to determine for himself what he believes is right and wrong."
Social media campaign
In the days since the deadly Charlottesville rally rocked the country, some social media users have created Twitter and Facebook accounts for the sole purpose of identifying and shaming white supremacists who partook in last weekend's events.
On Monday, it didn't take long before one of the virtual vigilante accounts were alerted to a photo of Krofta at the rally, standing beside the man accused of hitting and killing a counter-protester with a car. Krofta confirmed to The Post and Courier that it is, indeed, him shown in the photo.
Social media users also were quick to criticize the commercial and industrial supplier where he worked.
Krofta's Facebook profile indicates he resides in Ridgeville and was a welder and mechanic at Limehouse & Sons Inc. His page also trumpets racist and neo-Nazi ideologies — all of which are ideals, Krofta said Monday, he firmly stands behind.
"If you look on Facebook and anyone commenting who have known me in person know that I am a good person, but they have also known my beliefs I am very open about them," Krofta said in the Facebook exchange.
"Even people from park circle and the Mill knew that. And it wasn't until this weekend did people feel the need to say something to virtue signal," he added.
"They think they are strong and moral yet only when its convenient for them. They can attack my livelihood all they want, but I am not a materialist so it doesn't matter whether I am poor and homeless or have a steady comfy life," Krofta said in the message.
The backlash Krofta faces comes at a time of mounting tension across the nation, as protests and rallies decrying the racist ideologies he stands for are held in cities from coast to coast.
At least one other person has lost their job as a result of their participation in the rally and subsequent public social media shaming.
Twenty-year-old college student Peter Cvjetanovic was photographed shouting with a group of torch-wielding protesters last Friday while marching through the UVA campus, the Associated Press reported.
The photo went viral.
Cvjetanovic has said in interviews with other outlets that he didn't expect the photo to be circulated as widely as it was.
Thousands of people signed an online petition to have him kicked out of school, according to the AP, while Cvjetanovic told a local TV station that he is "not the angry racist they see in that photo," but a white nationalist who cares for all people.
No direct ties to murder suspect
Krofta also said in the exchange with The Post and Courier that he has no formal ties to Fields and that the two had only made small talk while they attended the protest.
"Look, I was there early, people started rolling in we made introductions. We moved from one barricaded zone to another and were standing in a line," Krofta said. "I just met him. He came down from Ohio (and) he wasn't affiliated with a group. I am a nice person. I get along with everyone. We exchanged small chat. That is the sum of it and the truth. Hate me all you want but my conscience is clear."
Following swift backlash and outrage across social media from Lowcountry residents, Krofta's former employer published a statement on Facebook condemning "the actions of the people involved in this horrific display that has taken place in Charlottesville, VA."
Responding to Facebook users who questioned if "he" was fired, Limehouse & Sons wrote "he is no longer an employee" as of Monday afternoon.
It was not immediately clear whether Krofta left of his own volition or was terminated, and the company did not return a message seeking clarification.
Charleston County records also indicate Krofta was arrested three times in 2013 for charges including public intoxication and congregating for an unlawful purpose.
On Krofta's profile, he refers to himself as "unashamed, unabashed white devil." Krofta also publicly shared other posts and propaganda. His political views, as listed on his Facebook page, simply lists: "Zenophobe, Narcissist, Bigot, Misogynist, Racist, Nazi, Ignorant, Right-Winger, Anti-Semite, Islamophobe, Fascist, Dumbass."
Brooks Brunson and Angie Jackson contributed to this report.