CONCORD — A federal jury has found Christopher Cantwell guilty of two of three felony charges stemming from online disputes with fellow members of the radical right.
A U.S. District Court jury found the Keene resident guilty of extortion through interstate communications and threatening through interstate communications, according to the case’s online index.
The jury cleared him of cyberstalking.
The trial started last Tuesday, and Cantwell testified in his own defense. The jury got the case on Friday and delivered their verdict on Monday. Cantwell, 39, is scheduled to return to the Concord courthouse on Jan. 23 for sentencing.
Cantwell was arrested in late January and has been jailed at Strafford County House of Corrections since then. His lawyers have pushed for a speedy trial. His is the second to be heard at the U.S. District Court since the federal court resumed trials.
According to court filings, Cantwell’s victim in the case holds much of the same ideology that he does.
In 2018, both participated in the online discussion group Bowl Gang or Bowl Patrol. The group identifies with Dylann Roof, the man who killed nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., in 2015. The name stems from Roof’s bowl-shaped haircut.
Cantwell’s defense lawyers say one of the group’s goals is to “make Whites more predatory” like their ancestors. Racial and ethnic slurs are common. And the hyper-masculine dialogue includes jokes about raping women and taunts about a target’s manhood.
“Safeguarding the civil liberties every American is entitled to, regardless of their beliefs, is fundamental to the FBI’s mission. But when freedom of speech is weaponized, and threats are made, a line must be drawn where individuals like Christopher Cantwell will not be allowed to cross,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, in a statement.
Cantwell eventually ended up in a dispute with the man who runs the online discussion group, and the leader’s allies began calling Cantwell’s radio show and taunting him, according to court filings.
The filings say Cantwell had a private online conversation with a man known as Cheddarmane and demanded he reveal the real name and address of group leader Vic Mackey. Cantwell hoped to dox him, a term referring to revealing private information about an online personality.
When Cheddarmane, who lives in Missouri, wouldn’t provide the information, Cantwell allegedly threatened to have his associates rape Cheddermane’s wife in the presence of their children.
Cantwell came to national notoriety in 2017 during the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left one person dead. Cantwell was captured on camera crying upon his arrest and dubbed “the crying Nazi” by the media.
After he was freed from jail, he returned to Keene and earns a living through donations, podcasts and his radio show, Radical Agenda.
The trial was held under a variety of health and safety precautions due to COVID-19. For example, all participants wore masks and maintained social distancing, except for witnesses when testifying.
Keene resident Ian Freeman filed written requests to view the trial without a mask, citing religious, medical and journalistic reasons. Judge Paul Barbadoro denied his requests.