Christopher C. Cantwell

Cantwell

Christopher C. Cantwell, the well-known white nationalist who resides in Keene, was indicted last week on two new federal charges, adding to an ongoing criminal case against him.

The new charges, handed up by a grand jury in Concord on July 8, are threat to injure property or reputation and cyberstalking.

They allege Cantwell — who became infamous after media coverage of his role in the 2017 white-nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. — threatened, harassed and posted the name and street information of someone identified in court documents as “Victim 1.” Prosecutors claim Cantwell made those threats while demanding personal information about a third person, whom prosecutors identify as “VM,” in reference to a screen name.

Neither man is identified by name in the indictment, but Victim 1 appears to be someone who uses the screen name “Cheddar Mane,” and VM appears to be someone using the alias “Vic Mackey,” according to a review of court records and posts on the messaging app Telegram.

Both screen names are associated with an online network that venerates Dylann S. Roof, the white supremacist who murdered nine people inside a Black church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015. Members of that group produce a podcast known as “The Bowlcast,” which glorifies racist violence, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The new charges are in addition to charges of extortionate interstate communications and threatening interstate communications brought in January. Cantwell was arrested Jan. 23 at his Keene home on South Lincoln Street and has been in federal custody since.

His trial had been scheduled for August, but it is unclear whether the new charges will push that back.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Cantwell used Telegram in June 2019 to send a vulgar, threatening message to “Cheddar Mane,” including an apparent threat to rape the man’s wife, while demanding information on “Vic Mackey.”

That month, a Telegram account associated with The Bowlcast re-posted one of Cantwell’s Telegram posts and shared what appear to be screenshots of angry text message exchanges between him and “Cheddar Mane.”

The post and messages — which match excerpts quoted by federal prosecutors in court documents — indicate Cantwell was pressuring “Cheddar Mane” to give up information about “Vic Mackey.”

Both are associated with the so-called “Bowl Gang” or “Bowl Patrol,” a network of white supremacists who claim Roof as a hero and take their name from his bowl haircut.

“Vic Mackey” is The Bowlcast’s creator, and he and others on the show have praised racist violence like that committed by Roof, which they see as hastening a “race war,” according to a February 2019 article from the Anti-Defamation League. Both Cantwell and “Cheddar Mane” have appeared on the show.

The two new charges include additional quotes from threatening messages that Cantwell allegedly sent to “Cheddar Mane.”

Between June 15 and June 17, 2019, according to the new indictment and the screenshots posted online, Cantwell told “Cheddar Mane” he would “lose everything you have,” said he would post a photo with identifiable faces that would lead to him “getting unexpected visitors” and wrote, “Tell Vic that if he gives himself up, he can save your family.”

Cantwell also threatened to call the FBI and the local child protective services agency on “Cheddar Mane”; posted a photograph of him and his family, and identified the state, town and street where they lived, on a Telegram page for his own podcast; and actually did call a child abuse and neglect hotline to make a report about “Cheddar Mane,” the indictment claims.

An attorney for Cantwell, federal public defender Eric Wolpin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cantwell drew national attention after he was featured in a 2017 Vice News documentary displaying weapons and justifying the violence — including a lethal car attack — around the white-supremacist “Unite the Right” rally that August in Charlottesville.

Within days, a video surfaced online of Cantwell fighting back tears as he announced he was wanted in Virginia on charges alleging he assaulted people with a chemical spray during clashes with counterprotesters — earning him the nickname “the Crying Nazi.” He turned himself in and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and was sentenced to time served, plus suspended jail time.

Cantwell has spread racist, anti-Semitic and other hateful rhetoric through his podcast and other channels. He has been accused of using his online platform to threaten people before, including posting anti-Semitic and anti-trans language that targeted the victims in his Virginia criminal case.

Around the time of his alleged threats to “Cheddar Mane,” Cantwell also posted on Telegram about Roberta Kaplan, an attorney involved with a civil lawsuit against Cantwell and other figures associated with violence in Charlottesville. In the post, Cantwell used anti-Semitic and misogynistic slurs and wrote that after the lawsuit, “we’re going to have a lot of [expletive] fun with her.”

The post prompted two attorneys to withdraw from representing Cantwell, calling his behavior “repugnant or imprudent.”

After Cantwell’s Jan. 23 arrest, 17 firearms were seized from his home and vehicle, a Manchester police officer working with the FBI testified at a Feb. 20 detention hearing.

Cantwell was legally allowed to possess them because he had not been convicted of a felony, the officer, Brett Fernald, said.

He has been charged with felonies in the federal case.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS