CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia—Christopher Cantwell is not happy being labeled "the crying Nazi."
The white supremacist got the moniker after he recorded a tearful video upon hearing he was wanted for arrest after pepper-spraying protesters at the University of Virginia on August 11. That was the night several hundred torch-wielding white nationalists chanted “Jews will not replace us” and then encircled a few dozen protesters gathered at a statue of university founder Thomas Jefferson.
"When I come down here for a permitted demonstration, championed by the ACLU, where the police are supposed to be clearing our enemies from our path, and then I find myself involved in a riot facing 20 years in prison, I got emotional, shockingly enough," Cantwell told The Daily Beast in his first interview from jail.
"One minute I'm a fucking white supremacist terrorist and the next minute I'm a fucking crybaby?" he asks. "I'm a goddamn human being."
The 36-year-old New Hampshire resident said he is being held in solitary confinement at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail out of concerns for his safety.
Cantwell turned himself in last Wednesday after two citizen activists swore before a magistrate that he attacked them. The subsequent felony warrants for illegal use of gasses and injury by caustic agent were issued by a court without any involvement from police, even after a widely circulated photograph clearly caught him in the act.
Cantwell says he sprayed because fellow torch-bearing men had already been wounded by counter-protesters (the photograph does show a bloodied man in the background). Cantwell alleges that two counter-protesters menacingly moved toward him.
"That guy is coming directly at me, and I'm spraying him directly in the face," says Cantwell. "I used the least amount of force possible to prevent that man from harming me in a brawl that my enemies started."
Cantwell also blamed police, who he said forced him and others into counter-protesters.
"They pushed hundreds of armed white nationalists into a crowd of communist rioters who threw rocks and piss and shit and bleach and pepper spray and hit us with clubs and did everything they could to provoke us into shooting them."
One of the two who swore out the warrants against him, Emily Gorcenski, calls Cantwell's self-defense claim laughable.
"It was 300 against 30, and they had us surrounded," Gorcenski told The Daily Beast, recalling the torch rally. "If anyone has a self-defense claim, it's us who were at the statue."
Cantwell declines to tone down his rhetoric, claiming that Gorcenski isn't qualified to testify in court because she's a "fucking tranny" and blames "kikes" for for orchestrating the counter-protesters.
"All of these people [statue removers] are taking their talking points from Jews," he said.
Cantwell rose to fame for appearing in a Vice News documentary on Charlottesville where he called blacks “savages,” criticized Ivanka Trump’s marriage to Jared Kushner, a Jew, and said he was prepared to kill if necessary.
"If I wanted to go there to harm people we would not be talking about pepper spray charges," Cantwell said, claiming he used a consumer-grade pepper compound that he keeps on a keychain. "I came there with my keychain — I did not go there with a riot can like the fucking communists did."
Cantwell claims he was hit with bear spray or something similar Friday, and again on Saturday. Vice News captured Cantwell appearing to be hit with an irritant on Saturday and drenching his face in milk as a comrade says, "Heil Cantwell!"
"I got assaulted twice in as many days," says Cantwell, "and now I'm facing 20 years in prison, which I think is pretty fucked up."
Each of the three felonies Cantwell is charged with carries a five-year sentence.
In a break from conversation, Cantwell was overheard telling a jail staffer that he's not responsible for the deluge of correspondence he's begun receiving which include something by Ian Fleming and a book on Adolf Hitler.
"I'm a public figure," he yelled. "People just send me shit through the mail."
And his infamy is what prompted him to surrender in Lynchburg rather than Charlottesville, Cantwell claims.
"I feared that my presence here might create a fucking riot," he said.
As for Gorcenski, she said Cantwell deserves the same rights as anyone else.
"I think he's a dangerous, violent person. But I hope the justice system gives him a fair treatment."