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Keene's 'crying Nazi' back in NH after guilty plea in Va.

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 22. 2018 11:45PM
White nationalist Chris Cantwell last year in Charlottesville, Va. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post/File photo)

Christopher Cantwell, the “crying Nazi” who pepper-sprayed counter-demonstrators at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last summer, returned to Keene on Saturday, a day after a Virginia judge gave him eight hours to leave the commonwealth.

Cantwell, 37, said he drove into Keene on Saturday morning shortly before dawn. He plans to remain in New Hampshire, he said, but travel outside the state to speak to his followers.

“I’m not looking to do anything here. New Hampshire’s a nice place; I’d like it to stay that way,” he said during a telephone conversation on Sunday. “I’d just like to prevent the madness in the rest of the country from coming here.”

On Friday, Cantwell pleaded guilty to assault and battery for dispersing pepper spray near the University of Virginia rotunda on Aug. 11. He was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 12 months, with all but seven months suspended.

He was also fined $250 for violating the terms of his bail by discussing his victims on social media. He was also ordered to be out of the state in eight hours and not return for five years.

Cantwell had been free on bail since early December but was on electronic monitoring and could not leave the state.

Keene police Sgt. Thaddeus Derendal said police know that Cantwell has returned to the city. He said police have never had problems with him, so he will be treated no differently from anyone else.

Ian Freeman, a blogger associated with the Free State movement in Keene, said Cantwell visited him Saturday night, and they spent about an hour on Freeman’s porch talking.

“He was the same old Chris Cantwell. He seemed to be in good shape, good spirits,” Freeman said. Freeman said he finds Cantwell’s racist views despicable. But as a minister of peace, Freeman said he believes he should keep in contact with Cantwell and try to convince him otherwise.

Freeman said Cantwell was never embraced by the Free State movement. He said Cantwell spends a lot of time at home and supports himself through his ideology.

Cantwell said he stopped going to bars in Keene once people started confronting him about his racist blog posts.

“These days, I gotta be a lot more careful. I think I’ll do a lot more walking away,” he said. Cantwell said he does not leave his three-bedroom apartment without a firearm.

The Charlottesville rally ended with a participant running over and killing a protester, something Cantwell was never implicated in. Cantwell was labeled the “crying Nazi” after he tears up in a video following the rally when his arrest seems imminent.

On Sunday, he stressed that he said he was not a Nazi in the video. But while jailed in Virginia, he read “Mein Kampf’’ and other works, he said. He said National Socialism now forms his world view.

“I am able to now speak intelligently about National Socialism,’’ Cantwell said.

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