CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — Police did not seek the warrants that led to the arrest of white supremacist Christopher Cantwell this week, documents reviewed by The Daily Beast show.
Cantwell was booked into a local jail Thursday on suspicion of two felonies after he allegedly pepper-sprayed protesters on Aug. 11 at the University of Virginia. Cantwell and hundreds of torch-bearing white supremacists gathered at UVA that night, chanting Nazi slogans “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” as they marched around a statue of Thomas Jefferson.
The pepper-sprayed protesters swore to a local magistrate they were attacked by Cantwell, and the magistrate issued three felony warrants based on their accusations. Kristopher Cheney Goad and Emily Gorcenski accused Cantwell of illegal use of gasses and injury by caustic agent or explosive. The warrants did not originate through an investigation by Charlottesville, the University of Virginia, or state police.
Goad is a longtime activist against Confederate memorials in Richmond, Virginia, and was featured in a documentary film. Gorcenski is a data scientist and activist from Charlottesville.
“Because there is an ongoing investigation, I won’t give full details on that night,” Goad told The Daily Beast. “However as anyone can clearly see from public videos from that night, Cantwell’s claims for self defense are not valid.”
State and local police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Law enforcement have come under withering criticism for their failure to protect protesters from assault by white supremacists during the August 12 “Unite the Right” rally. Officers ignored pleas for help from bleeding protesters and failed to intervene or make arrests in the brutal beating of a black man in a parking garage next door to the Charlottesville police station.
Hundreds of angry residents chanted for the resignation of Mayor Mike Signer during a Monday city council meeting, causing him to flee the council chambers. (Three people were arrested.)
Cantwell, a New Hampshire native, was one of the best-known figures who attended the two-day hate rally. He hosted an online radio show called ‘Radical Agenda.’ Cantwell was the main subject of a Vice News documentary on the rally, where he is seen getting maced, fighting with protesters, showing off an arsenal of guns, and calling blacks “savages.”
Days after the rally, Cantwell posted a video where he cries while talks about rumors that warrants were issued. On August 23 he turned himself in to police in Lynchburg, Virginia and was transported to the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, where he is being held without bond pending trial.
Cantwell has several prior misdemeanor arrests and convictions in his native state of New York, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, including criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of driving while intoxicated. In 2011, he was a self-proclaimed libertarian comedian.
Since then, Cantwell has advocated for the murder of police officers and the genocide of blacks and Jews.
"I’m not even a Hitlerite but I’m like ok, let’s fucking gas the kikes and have a race war," Cantwell said on an online radio show, "because once I realized they were responsible for the communism, then I was like, oh, wait a second, yeah, that’s a fucking really good reason to fucking genocide a group of people."
As a high-profile prisoner, Cantwell is likely to be kept in isolation for his own protection. Jeff Lenert, a recently retired parole officer for the region, told The Daily Beast that Cantwell is likely to be kept in the quarters as serial killer Jesse Matthew was before his own trial.
"Jesse Matthew was held in a small cell that is kind of like a fish bowl, glass on the front cinder blocks on the other three sides," Lenert said. "There is a half wall where a toilet is tucked behind but it does not provide much privacy. The glass portion of the cell opens onto the Receiving and Discharge department of the jail which is in operation 24 hours a day. The lights are never off and it is rarely quiet. It is, in essence a fishbowl."
Cantwell’s first trial date has tentatively been set for October 12 but that is likely to be delayed after an attorney is assigned to his case.