Cantwell, who earned the nickname for his reaction to news of a warrant for his arrest, made the threats on Friday, the same day Fields was found guilty of first-degree murder for ramming his car through a crowd of counterprotesters at the “Unite the Right” rally last year in Charlottesville. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed, and 35 others were injured, many grievously.
As The Washington Post’s Joe Heim and Kristine Phillips reported, the killing “culminated a dark 24 hours in this quiet college town” — and Cantwell was mostly in the middle of it. A photographer for The Post captured him sitting on a curb, being tended to by police after being hit with tear gas.
A year later, with Fields’s trial now over, Cantwell went on the social media platform Gab, known for its far-right user base, and aimed his words at “Charlottesville and the broad Left.” Fields’s conviction “will drive us toward your complete and total destruction,” he said, claiming that there are more than enough people “to put in the massive amounts of unpleasant work.”
Cantwell has made similarly ominous threats before. As The Post’s Avi Selk wrote in August 2017, “Cantwell was the thick-armed embodiment of white nationalism to tens of millions of people — the star of VICE News and HBO’s documentary about [the] rallies, which has been seen more than 30 million times.”
Cantwell even weighed in on the violence that came to epitomize the rally, saying the fatal car attack was justified because the protesters had been “stupid animals.”
But then came his fall.
A video shot in his hotel room shortly after the rally shows Cantwell learning that there is a warrant out for his arrest over the use of illegal gas and injury by a caustic agent or explosive. He appears to be on the verge of tears.
“I’ve been told there’s a warrant out for my arrest,” Cantwell pleads to the camera, through sniffles and in a trembling voice. “I don’t know what to do!”
The dismantling of his persona wasn’t over.
A short time later, his OkCupid profile was leaked online, describing him as single, 6 feet tall and interested in marriage and children.
“Ideally I’d like to talk on here briefly, move quickly to the phone, and then we can go out on a date and see what happens,” wrote the user “ItsChris603,” beneath what appears to be a gym-mirror selfie of Cantwell.
If that happens, it will be without the help of OkCupid. Ten minutes after the company learned he was a user on its site, it banned him “for life.”
“There is no room for hate in a place where you’re looking for love,” the company said at the time.
Cantwell entered a plea deal on the charges this summer, according to Charlottesville NBC affiliate WVIR. He was given credit for 107 days he spent in jail and ordered not to return to Virginia for five years.