The Bangor father of a white nationalist organizer of Saturday’s Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, denounced his son’s extremism and said he is “disappointed” in him.
“I can’t re-emphasize enough that the philosophy of this group is something I condemn,” said Bangor history professor Peter Lodge, father of Nathan Damigo.
Damigo, 31, was born in Lewiston and is the founder of California-based Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group. He was arrested Saturday in Virginia for allegedly refusing to obey an order to disperse after his group clashed with counter protesters. Damigo’s organization was in Charlotteville to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Identity Evropa bills itself as a “generation of awakened Europeans.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, labels Identity Evropa a “white nationalist hate group.”
Lodge said he knows enough to about Identity Evropa, the so-called alt-right group his son formed in 2016, to say: “I totally disagree with their beliefs.”
He was one of the 200 or so people who held a peaceful vigil Sunday in Bangor’s West Market Square to show their solidarity with the victims of the weekend violence in Charlottesville that left one counter protester dead and 19 others injured.
Lodge’s son joined the U.S. Marines and served two tours in Iraq and was still on active duty when he committed an armed robbery that landed him in a California prison for nearly five years. He was released in 2014, according to his father.
“He has been progressing and been more and more involved [as a white nationalist] since he spent time in jail,” Lodge said, adding that he has distanced himself from his son in recent years.
“They divided people [in prison] by race,” Lodge said. “It was really where he was radicalized in his thinkings about race.”
It’s also where Damigo read a book by David Duke, a former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.
“I tried to persuade him from moving in that direction,” said Lodge, an adjunct professor of history at University of Maine at Augusta in Bangor and a supporter of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine. “I teach history. And I try to bring people together, not pull them apart over things like race.”
Nathan’s mother, Charilyn, moved to California with their son when he was about 8 months old and shortly thereafter the couple divorced. She later married Mike Damigo. Lodge said he has not seen his ex-wife in about 30 years, but his son visited every year in his youth.
Lodge said if he got to see his son he would have just two words to say.
“I would say that, ‘I’m disappointed,’” Lodge said.