Christopher Cantwell cries in a video denouncing Charlottesville counterprotesters.

Screengrab via Paige Carter/YouTube

Crying white nationalist Christopher Cantwell surrenders to UVA police

He believes the charges stem from him pepper-spraying counterprotesters.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Aug 24, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 7:31 pm CDT

Christopher Cantwell, the white nationalist figure at the center of Vice’s documentary on the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned himself in to police on Wednesday.

According to NBC associate producer Marianna Sotomayor, Cantwell will be held at Blue Ridge Regional Jail until he’s moved to Charlottesville.

After his participation in Charlottesville, Cantwell maintained his virality when he published a tearful video of himself accusing the counterprotesters of the white supremacist rally of inciting violence. In the video, Cantwell said the Charlottesville Police Department couldn’t confirm that he had a warrant out for his arrest.

On Tuesday, however, the University of Virginia (UVA) Police Department said they had obtained warrants against him in connection to his participation in the torchlit white supremacist march that took place on campus on Aug. 11, the evening before the Charlottesville rally. The warrants against him are for two counts of illegal use of tear gas, and one count of “malicious bodily injury by means of any caustic substance or agent,” according to NBC News.

Cantwell had previously told the New York Times that he believed any charges he faced would stem from a photo taken of him at the UVA march, in which he’s pepper-spraying a man in the face.

“I thought that spraying that guy was the least damaging thing I could do,” Cantwell said at the. “In my left hand, I had a flashlight. My other option, other than the pepper spray, was to break this guy’s teeth. OK? And I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted him to not hurt me.”

Emily Gorcenski, an activist for transgender rights, previously told the Times she reported Cantwell to UVA police on Aug. 12. She said that during the white supremacist march on campus, she had stood next to Cantwell when he used pepper spray on a “whole group” of counterprotesters. She said she thought her complaint led to the charges filed against him.

In a “Hatewatch” update, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote Wednesday that they had spoken to Cantwell on the phone before he surrendered to authorities.

According to the center, Cantwell was first jailed in 2000 after pleading guilty to three misdemeanors: fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and driving while intoxicated. He served four months out of a six-month sentence but was briefly incarcerated before taking a plea deal in 2009 for driving while intoxicated.

In 2015, he recorded himself pulling a gun on strangers during a dispute. Police reviewed the video and did not file charges.

“I don’t think I did anything wrong, and I’m looking forward to my day in court,” Cantwell previously told the Times.

H/T MariannaNBCNews/Twitter

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*First Published: Aug 24, 2017, 10:22 am CDT