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ROTC Nazi? Army helping investigate allegations cadet sent racist tweets

An erika tweet shared by U.S. Army WTF Moments shows cross burning in the1920. Social media posts last week linked Martha Gerdes, a cadet in Davidson College?s ROTC program, to the erika Twitter account.

SCREENSHOT FROM TWITTER

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 15, 2018

The Army’s Cadet Command is assisting in an investigation into allegations that a Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet at a North Carolina liberal arts college was operating a pro-Nazi and white supremacist Twitter account.

Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, head of the command, said Wednesday on Twitter that police in Davidson, N.C., were looking into the matter after social media posts last week linked Martha Gerdes, a cadet in Davidson College’s ROTC program, to “malicious tweets.” Evans reversed his claims that Gerdes had been cleared after online sleuths had accused her and her alleged boyfriend of operating racist Twitter accounts last week, saying he had been informed police were continuing an investigation.

“I tweeted this message last week based on an investigation I thought was thorough and complete,” he said.

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The college is still investigating the matter, school spokesman Jay Pfeifer said via email. The implicated students were not on campus, he said, but privacy laws prevented him from disclosing more.

The controversy comes on the heels of an attack last month at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead and 7 wounded. It also follows a spate of headline-grabbing clashes between white nationalist demonstrators and far-left counter-protesters across the country in recent years, including cases involving military servicemembers.

At least two Marines were kicked out of the service last year after their ties to white supremacist groups were exposed. Earlier this year, a Marine with alleged connections to neo-Nazi organizations was booted from the Corps after reports that he bragged about assaulting a trans woman at last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Online activists linked Gerdes to a racist and anti-Semitic Twitter account going by the user name “erika” by matching photos and biographical details that the various accounts had all shared at around the same time.

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Gerdes could not immediately be reached for comment.

Davidson College said on Twitter last week that officials were aware of the information and “the college is on it.” Later, officials said the accused students had left campus and had been kicked off the sailing team, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Some students told the college newspaper that one of the two had been removed from a student group last year over “racist ideologies that were unwelcome.” Students held a demonstration last Friday to protest bigotry on campus.

The allegations against Gerdes, originating from an apparent leftist group that opposes white supremacy and capitalism, caught the attention of U.S. Army WTF Moments, which notified Army ROTC and the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

In response, Army ROTC said officials were looking into it and would “take action as appropriate.”

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland

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