Police at the University of Virginia, where a torch-lit march was held on August 11, had issued warrants for his arrest on two counts of illegal use of tear gas and other gases, and one count of malicious bodily injury with a caustic substance. All the charges are felonies.
The New Hampshire resident surrendered to police in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is currently being held at the regional jail as he awaits transport to Charlottesville.
Cantwell and dozens of others marched through the university grounds on August 11, carrying torches and chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “White lives matter.” They were protesting a Charlottesville City Council plan to remove a Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue from a nearby park, says CNN
Protesters also chanted “blood and soil” — an English translation of the Nazi slogan “Blut und Boden,” which glorified rural living and held that only blood descent can entitle individuals to belonging in the nation.
Cantwell was brash and defiant in interviews with Vice filmed during and after the march. But he appeared tearful in a separate Facebook video the same weekend, saying he might be arrested but not specifying why.
In an interview with The New York Times
over the weekend, he said the warrants stemmed from an incident during the march when he pepper-spraying someone. He said he acted in self-defense.
“I thought that spraying that guy was the least damaging thing I could do,” he told the paper. “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.”