The Arkansas Times has identified the man photographed wearing an "Arkansas Engineering" T-shirt at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville as Andrew M. Dodson, a former student at the University of Arkansas Engineering school.
In a telephone interview with the Arkansas Times, Dodson apologized for the trouble he caused the state and, specifically, an Engineering professor at the University of Arkansas who was misidentified as the person carrying a torch at a march last Friday night. The professor became the target of social media vitriol.
“There's a couple of guys in Fayetteville that have been misidentified as me. ... It’s not those guys, it’s not them; it’s me," Dodson said. "I’m so sorry, I would never want to hurt you and your family. If they want my T-shirt back, I'll send it to them."
Dodson did not know personally the professor who was misidentified, who worked in a different branch of engineering than that studied by Dodson, but he did apologize to those with whom he studied for two years. He did not graduate from the university.
"I learned so much from these [engineering] guys," he said. "It breaks my heart that they're going to think I’m a Nazi, or a KKK, or a white supremacist."
"I did not put on that University of Arkansas shirt in order to represent them. It’s really like one of my favorite shirts and I was wearing it when I got on the plane," Dodson said. "I just didn’t put two and two together. It was dumb."
Dodson, 33, is from South Carolina, and now lives in New England (he refused to give specific towns). He moved to Arkansas in 2009 "after the economy crashed" and last visited the state a few months ago for a wedding. Dodson moved to Arkansas originally to work at a design firm he says and was sent back to school by the firm at the University of Arkansas to acquire more skills, where he got the shirt.
He said he had participated in the campaign to elect Ron Paul president in 2008, the Occupy Movement, and the Tea Party movement and, after these experiences, came to Charlottesville because he wanted to "see who these alt-right people were."
He knew they had been labeled racists but, Dodson said, the media often lied about Ron Paul and the Occupy movement.
"I found there was this group called Identity Europa and they were like, 'We are not racist, we are identitarians.' ... I asked, 'Is this going to be a thing where they’re doing whiteness [and white supremacy], swastikas and Sieg Heil?' And they said, 'No, that’s not what we’re about.'"
Those elements were part of the demonstration.
Dodson said he was also the same Andrew Dodson who had been interviewed in an article for The Atlantic but claimed that the article was inaccurate. He said he was not a "racial realist," as the article described, but, instead, felt that the current conversation about race, especially the Black Lives Matter movement was instigating a "fake conversation" that is "funded by this guy George Soros."
"How else am I going to figure out what these guys are about?" he said.
UPDATE (4:07 p.m.):
Here is a comment sent to us from Mark Rushing, Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Relations at the University of Arkansas.