White Nationalist behind Charlottesville protests grew up in Montgomery County

MONTGOMERY CO., Md. - Among the many questions surrounding the deadly protests in Charlottesville, many are still asking "why?"

One of the leaders of the White Nationalist movement, which descended on Charlottesville back in August, Matthew Heimbach, grew up in Poolesville, Maryland, and went to Montgomery College.

He skyped with DCW50 to provide some insight.

"I wasn't raised with these values and my family doesn't agree with them, so I had to make a choice and I chose my my world view," he says.

Heimbach got himself on the alt-right radar when he attempted to start a White Student Union at Towson University back in 2012.

A spokesperson for the university says that his attempt was rejected and denied.

Before that, he attended Montgomery College.

His former professor, Dr. Joseph Thompson, said he had his concerns pretty quickly.

"I was concerned he was digging himself in a hole from which he'd never recover," he says. "He was ruining his life."

Dr. Thompson says he tried to convince Heimbach that many of his views were based on lies and bad science, but was unsuccessful.

"He wore a t-shirt that said everything I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11."

Heimbach, now living in Indiana, is the chairman of the Traditionalist Worker Party. On their website, they describe themselves as the first political party created by and for working families.

He describes himself as a nationalist-socialist.

"We don't want to be Americans," he says. "We believe in a post-American world where we can have an ethnostate which is a nation for whites, by whites."

Heimbach was among the hundreds of White Nationalists who traveled to Charlottesville for the Unite the Right rally.

The rally was originally promoted as an event to oppose the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a city park, but it descended into violence as demonstrators and counter protestors fought in the streets.

Police say James Fields, associated with the alt-right grups, drove his car into a group of counter protestors, killing 33-year-old Heather Heyer.

Despite the chaos and loss of life, Heimbach said his unapologetic about the rally.

"It was primarily young people, 18, 19, 20 years old that are realizing that multiculturalism and neoliberalism has fundamentally failed them and that America has failed them," he says.

DCW 50's Kelly Rule asked Heimbach if he is a racist.

"If you want to call me that term, if that's what the modern definition is, sure, but what I am is an individual that loves my extended family," he says. "We want the black community to be independent, sovereign, and successful, we want that for the Chicano communities, the indigenous people communities, the Asian communities, we want that also for our community."

Dr. Thompson argues that there is a fear in Heimbach's ideology.

"It's this fear that America is losing something by becoming less white that he imaged it was," he says.

Heimbach tells me his organization plans to have more rallies.

They also try to fundraise, for instance, food bank collections, to help underprivileged white communities.

Dr. Thompson is confident it will just lead to more people rejecting his former student's ideology.

"How many people responded in anger? Millions," he says. "The reaction to what Matt has done in Charlottesville is far more important to what the rally that he helped inspire."