Arrested for using pepper spray against counter-protesters during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last year, self-proclaimed anti-Semite and white supremacist Christopher Cantwell pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of assault and battery. According to the terms of the plea agreement, Cantwell is barred from returning to Virginia for five years and prohibited from making direct or indirect contact with his victims.
Appearing in the Vice News documentary “Charlottesville: Race and Terror,” Cantwell marched alongside white nationalists carrying Tiki torches on August 11, 2017, while chanting bigoted slogans, including “Jews will not replace us.”
During an interview with Vice’s Elle Reeve, Cantwell openly referred to black people as “savages,” promoted the use of violence, and criticized President Trump for allowing his daughter, Ivanka, to marry a Jewish person. When asked if he would prefer a president in office who is more racist than Trump, Cantwell replied, “A lot more racist than Donald Trump. I don’t think you can feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl, okay?”
As physical altercations broke out between white supremacists and counter-protesters during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last year, Cantwell used pepper spray to attack people protesting against neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other white nationalists. Cantwell later wrote a blog post admitting that he had fired pepper spray directly into the eyes of a counter-protester. Although Cantwell claimed he used the pepper spray in self-defense, the white supremacist clearly stated that he had initiated the violent altercation against the counter-protesters.
While hiding in a hotel room in North Carolina, Cantwell was informed that felony warrants had been issued for his arrest in Virginia. Shortly afterwards, the skin-headed white nationalist recorded a video depicting Cantwell in tears at the thought of his arrest while refusing to immediately turn himself into police custody.
On Friday, Cantwell entered a plea of guilty to two counts of assault and battery stemming from his dispersal of pepper spray near the UVA Rotunda on August 11, 2017. He was sentenced to two terms of 12 months, with all but seven months suspended, to run concurrently. Cantwell received 107 days credit for jail time he has served relating to this case.
He was also fined $250 for violating bond by making references to his victims on social media and in a radio broadcast.
“This agreement reflects the defendant’s acceptance of criminal responsibility for his dispersal of pepper spray on August 11, 2017,” Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci said in a recent statement. “The defendant must leave the Commonwealth before the end of today, is prohibited from re-entering the Commonwealth for five years, and is prohibited from direct or indirect contact with victims in this case during the period of good behavior. This outcome brings a measure of finality to the Defendant’s dispersal of pepper spray nearly a year ago. This agreement was supported by the victims in this case, who have been consulted at each stage of the criminal process. Finally, this agreement does not foreclose additional potential criminal prosecution of conduct arising from the events of August 11th of last year.”
Less than 24 hours after Cantwell participated in the violence that erupted near the UVA Rotunda, neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters and murdered 32-year-old Heather Heyer.