This article by Jeff Schogol originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues
Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis -- who reportedly belonged to a Neo-Nazi group and assaulted protesters while marching with white supremacists last year -- has officially been kicked out of the Marine Corps.
Pistolis had been sentenced to 28 days' confinement, reduction in rank to E-1, and forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month after being found guilty at a June 19 summary court-martial of failure to obey an order or regulation and making a false official statement.
The former Marine was separated on July 11, the day he got out of the brig, said Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Brian Block.
"He is not a Marine anymore," said Block, who was unable to say what type of discharge Pistolis received due to privacy act restrictions.
Pistolis had been assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 8, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
ProPublica reported in May that Pistolis was a member of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group, and had marched in the Aug. 12, 2017, "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va. A news photographer captured a picture of Pistolis beating a protester with a wooden flagpole, and he reportedly bragged online about assaulting another protester, Emily F. Gorcenski.
When ProPublica tweeted on Wednesday that Pistolis had been separated, Gorcenski responded by tweeting: "Bye Nazi."
The Marine Corps makes clear that any Marines will be separated if the Corps confirms that they are members of or associated with any hate groups. Two Camp Lejeune Marines, Sgt. Michael Chesny and Staff Sgt. Joseph Manning, were separated after being arrested in May 2017 for flying a white supremacist banner at a pro-Confederate rally in North Carolina.
Former Marine recruiter Dillon Ulysses Hopper is reportedly the leader of the white supremacist group Vanguard America. And James Alex Fields Jr., who only spent four months with the Army before being kicked out, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing a woman at the Unite the Right rally by ramming his car into a crowd of protesters.
"We are seeing more cases involving hate groups," said Daniel Conway, a former Marine captain who is now a civilian attorney who represents service members. "I don't think there's an organized presence. But social media allows impressionable young men to associate with various groups that advocate divisive and hateful messages. Some of the groups operate under the veil of veterans organizations."
Regardless of the causes, he added, hate group activity in the services is "a growing problem."
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