'Crying Nazi' in federal custody for sending electronic threats

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KEENE, N.H. — A white nationalist from Keene who rose to prominence during the Unite the Right Rally held in Charlotesville, Va., in 2017 has been charged by the federal government with sending electronic threats in June 2019.

According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, Christopher Cantwell, 39, attempted to extort personal identifying information for a man using an online pseudonym "for the purpose of issuing a threat and with knowledge that the communications would be viewed as a threat ..."

Cantwell also stands accused of transmitting a threat via an online messaging app stating "So if you don't want me to come and [expletive] your wife in front of your kids, then you should make yourself scarce[.] Give me Vic, it's your only out."

The charges are a result of a grand jury hearing and were released to the public on Wednesday.

An arrest warrant for Cantwell was requested by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the state of New Hampshire and issued that same day. Cantwell was arrested today and is expected to be arraigned at 3 p.m.

Following the Unite the Right rally, Cantwell pleaded guilty to assault after he was accused of using pepper spray against two counterprotesters on Aug. 11, 2017.

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The following day, one woman was killed and dozens were injured when avowed white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, was sentenced to life in prison on federal hate crime charges. He also received 419 years in prison from the state for killing Heather Heyer, 32, when he drove his car into the crowd.

Cantwell was featured in a Vice News Tonight documentary on the rally. In the documentary, Cantwell is shown threatening to kill protesters, wielding firearms, and joining other marchers chanting "Jews will not replace us!"

Shortly after the rally, Cantwell uploaded a video to the internet, during which he chokes back tears and weeps after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest. After the video was uploaded, he was branded by many media outlets as "The Crying Nazi."

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In July 2018, Cantwell pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery for pepper spraying two people at the rally.

A little less than a year later, he announced he was getting out of politics, telling the Southern Poverty Law Center he was doing so because "the Jews" had taken an emotional toll on him.

Cantwell, who grew up in Stony Brook, New York, moved to Keene in 2012 and attempted to affiliate himself with the Free Keene movement, an offshoot of the Free State Project, an effort to build a libertarian stronghold in the Granite State. A year later, Free Keene disavowed his participation in the group.

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Cantwell has been named as a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 people injured during the Unite the Right rally.

In July 2019, attorneys for the plaintiffs filed a motion with a federal judge in Virginia, asking that Cantwell stop making "unlawful threats" against the plaintiffs and their lead attorney.

According to NHPR, Cantwell, responding to an article in a Jewish publication about the attorney, used an anti-Semitic slur on a social media website and wrote that after the attorney "loses this fraudulent lawsuit, we're going to have a lot of [expletive] fun with her."

Cantwell's "threat against Ms. Kaplan is troubling, distracting and distressing," stated the motion.

A short while later, Cantwell's defense attorneys asked to be withdrawn from the case because of Cantwell "has engaged in conduct [his attorneys] consider repugnant or imprudent ..." In late October, the judge granted their request. Cantwell is now representing himself, according to a document filed with the court on Tuesday. In that document, Cantwell is asking the court to dismiss him from the suit and that he receive "reasonable" attorney fees and compensation from the plaintiffs.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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