Keene white nationalist makes first court appearance, held without bond

  • A screenshot from the Vice News documentary "Charlottesville: Race and Terror" shows Christopher Cantwell of Keene with a group of white nationalist protesters in the Virginia college town on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017.

  • A police officer tends to Christopher Cantwell of Keene after clashes during the ‘Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. Washington Post

  • In this Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, image made from a video provided by Vice News Tonight, Christopher Cantwell attends a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. For all the words flowing since last weekend in Charlottesville, the most striking television reporting has been Vice Media’s insider account of the white nationalist movement and what it has wrought. Correspondent Elle Reeve’s initial story of the weekend violence took up the entirety of HBO’s half-hour “Vice News Tonight” broadcast Monday, Aug. 14, and by Thursday had been viewed more than 36 million times on TV and online. (Vice News Tonight via AP)

Associated Press
Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Keene white nationalist who says he pepper-sprayed a demonstrator in self-defense on the campus of the University of Virginia made his first court appearance Thursday.

News media outlets reported that Christopher Cantwell appeared before an Albemarle County General District Court judge on Thursday after turning himself in to authorities late the night before.

The Daily Progress reported that the judge didn’t set a bond, but said Cantwell’s attorney can ask for a bond hearing later. Cantwell told the judge he plans to hire his own lawyer.

Cantwell turned himself in late Wednesday after authorities announced he was wanted on three felony charges: two counts of the illegal use of tear gas or other gases and one count of malicious bodily injury with a “caustic substance,” explosive or fire.

Cantwell acknowledged in an interview with the Associated Press that he had pepper-sprayed a counterprotestor but insisted he was defending himself.

Cantwell was scheduled to be one of the speakers at the “Unite the Right” event, which was believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in a decade. The demonstrators arrived in Charlottesville partly to protest the city council’s vote to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car slammed into a crowd protesting the rally. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, has been charged in her death.

Cantwell was featured in an HBO Vice News documentary on the Charlottesville melee.