A self-professed white nationalist who once lived in Stony Brook appeared in a Virginia court Thursday to face charges stemming from a tumultuous rally in Charlottesville two weeks ago.
Christopher Cantwell, now of Keene, New Hampshire, was charged with two felony counts of the illegal use of tear gas against two people and a separate count of assaulting one of them, court records show.
The online records in Albermarle County General District Court show the case was adjourned until Oct. 12, but provided no other information.
The Daily Progress, a Charlottesville newspaper, said on its website that Cantwell told the judge he planned to hire an attorney.
In the meantime, he is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail after turning himself in Wednesday to the Lynchburg Police Department, the newspaper said.
The charges stem from a rally on the grounds of the University of Virginia on Aug. 11 that resulted in a clash been protesters and counterprotesters.
The next day, a woman was struck and killed by a car in downtown Charlottesville when the two sides clashed again. A different man has been charged in the death.
Cantwell, 36, told The Associated Press earlier this week that he had pepper-sprayed a counterdemonstrator during the first protest.
He said he was defending himself, and did it “because my only other option was knocking out his teeth.”
Cantwell has been identified by Suffolk County political figures as a man who once tried to run for Congress in the 1st District on the East End.
He was the announced Libertarian Party candidate in 2009 but failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot, according to his website and Republican, Democratic and Libertarian party members.
In a video documentary from Vice News, Cantwell brags about his capacity for violence and he and others chant anti-Semitic slogans as they march with torches to a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville.
Cantwell was a featured speaker at the Suffolk County Libertarian Party’s annual fundraiser in 2014, according to Suffolk Libertarian Party chairman Michael McDermott.
McDermott described Cantwell’s speech as, “very calm and normal.”
Cantwell attended Ward Melville High School in East Setauket. Court records show he has had multiple arrests in Suffolk County and served time in jail.
During his try for Congress, Cantwell listed a Stony Brook address and his mother as his campaign treasurer on federal election records.