The father of a man who participated in the violent white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has said he is praying his "prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home."
Over the weekend, violence broke out at a white supremacist rally in support of a statue of American Civil War General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. One person was killed and nearly 20 injured when a Neo-Nazi sympathizer crashed an automobile into a crowd of counter-protesters.
One white supremacist who participated in the rally was identified by the Twitter account @YesYoureRacist as Peter Tefft of Fargo, North Dakota, drawing the attention of his father, Pearce Tefft.
On Monday, the elder Tefft penned an open letter to his son, which was posted in the local newspaper.
Pearce confirmed his 30-year-old son is a white nationalist and condemned his "vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and action."
"We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home," Pearce wrote. "I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed. I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same."
Pearce continued: "Evidently Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons, much to my and his family's heartbreak and distress. We have been silent up until now, but now we see that this was a mistake. It was the silence of good people that allowed the Nazis to flourish the first time around, and it is the silence of good people that is allowing them to flourish now."
Until he turns from his evil behavior, Peter is no longer welcome at family gatherings, his father said.
"I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home," Pearce wrote. "Then and only then will I lay out the feast."
Pearce said his son's "hateful opinions are bringing hateful rhetoric to his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews as well as his parents."
"Why must we be guilty by association?" he asked. "Again, none of his beliefs were learned at home. We do not, never have, and never will, accept his twisted worldview."
His son once joked, "The thing about us fascists is, it's not that we don't believe in freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. We'll just throw you in an oven."
Pearce concluded: Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into the oven, too. Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all."
Meanwhile, the younger Tefft called the response "harassment" in an interview with KVLY and said he has a lawyer looking into the Twitter user who identified him as being at that rally.
"We feel this is the beginning of a new civil rights era, and this time it's going to be a pro-white one," he said. "As far as the term white supremacist goes, in my view anybody that thinks white people don't need advocacy, they're the white supremacists."
Addressing the violence of the weekend, Tefft said it was all in self-defense.
"We were there lawfully assembled," he said. "The counter-protesters were not lawfully assembled and they were allowed by the police to attack us."