An active-duty marine who was a member and marched alongside neo-Nazis last August in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., has been found guilty in a summary court-martial after he reportedly bragged online about participating in the violence that occurred during the march.
On the second day of the protests and rioting, a man drove his car into a crowd of people, killing one and injuring 19 others.
Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis on Monday was convicted on charges of failing to obey an order of regulation and making a false official statement under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the 2nd Marine Logistics Group said in a statement.
Pistolis, a water support technician was sentenced to 28 days of confinement, demoted two ranks to PVT E-1, and will lose two-thirds of a month’s pay. It is believed the Marine Corps will also separate him from the service as well once his confinement is complete.
Pistolis has seven days to submit a request for clemency to the convening officer, the Marines said.
This comes on the heels of the Army giving an other than honorable discharge to Spenser Rapone, the Communist Lieutenant who came to the attention of Army authorities when he posted pictures of his graduation from West Point wearing a Che Guevara shirt under his service blouse and another with a message scrawled in his hat stating “Communism will win.”
All of the armed services have regulations barring members from participating in racial extremist groups. Pistolis is assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics group, which operates from Camp Lejeune, NC.
Pistolis was involved with two of the most violent Neo-Fascist groups in the Atomwaffen Division and the Traditionalist Workers Party. And his own words showed how active he was in the rioting in Charlottesville.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Atomwaffen Division is a neo-Nazi organization “whose members are preparing for a race war to combat what they consider the cultural and racial displacement of the white race.”
In articles initially posted by ProPublica, Pistolis made multiple posts to online chat forums under the screen name VasillistheGreek before the event encouraging other Atomwaffen members to get vicious with any of counter-protesters there even to the point of sodomizing one of them with a knife. He claimed he was prepared to even kill, “if shit goes down.”
After the rioting, he returned bragging to social media about his fighting prowess during the fighting there, despite many of the other Atomwaffen Division members telling him not to. Pistolis wrote the day after the event, “Today cracked open 3 skulls with virtually no damage to myself.”
Photographs taken at the event show Pistolis hitting a counter-protester over the head with a wooden flagpole. He later posted a picture of a bloody Confederate flag and bragged, “not my blood” on the same social media chat forums.
He also claimed to assault a well-known transwoman from Charlottesville Emily Gorcenski who was there to counter-protest the Neo-Fascists that day and continued his bragging that he had “dropkicked that tranny” during the rally and resultant riot.
As soon as investigative reporters tracked him down and asked for quotes or interviews, Pistolis began removing his digital footprint, He took down his Twitter account, and deleted his Gab account, the online chat forum the groups had been using. He told media members that his posts were a joke, nothing more and that he didn’t assault Gorcenski or anyone else. Furthermore, he claimed that he wasn’t even at Charlottesville that weekend.
However, Gorcenski identified Pistolis as the man who kicked her at the rioting.
And unaware of how precedence works in similar cases, Gorcenski tweeted that the Marine Corps was allowing a Nazi to remain in the Corps.
Pistolis admitted to having “alt-right” or white supremacist beliefs but claimed that he was never a member of the Atomwaffen, instead, he claimed, that he only infiltrated the group at the behest of another group.
At the time of the Marine Corps’ investigation into Pistolis’ behavior, the DOD released a statement saying that local commanders have to take action if needed.
“What we’re doing is empowering commanders at every level to counsel service members on their conduct, and take disciplinary action where appropriate,” Major Carla Gleason, an Air Force DOD spokesperson said.
“We do recognize the right to free speech and thought,” said Gleason. But, she added, the Department of Defense insists that service members observe the military’s policies prohibiting discrimination and extremist behavior.
In addition to Pistolis, two other Marines were arrested in May 2017 for flying a white supremacist banner at a pro-Confederate rally in North Carolina..
The Marine Corps stated that one of those Marines, Sgt. Michael Chesny has been administratively separated from the service in April, while the other, Staff Sgt. Joseph Manning was discharged last December.
There were also several either active or former Army members present at Charlottesville. It is unknown at this time how the Army will investigate any active members in the rioting there.
Photos: Wikipedia picture of Pistolis by Samuel Corum, Twitter