White nationalist who pepper-sprayed demonstrator appears in Virginia court

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A white nationalist who says he pepper-sprayed a demonstrator in self-defense on the campus of the University of Virginia has made his first court appearance.

News media outlets report that Christopher Cantwell appeared before an Albemarle County General District Court judge on Thursday after turning himself in to authorities late the night before.

The Daily Progress reports that the judge didn’t set a bond, but said Cantwell’s attorney can ask for a bond hearing later. Cantwell told the judge he plans to hire his own lawyer.

Cantwell turned himself in late Wednesday after authorities announced he was wanted on three felony charges: two counts of the illegal use of tear gas or other gases and one count of malicious bodily injury with a “caustic substance,” explosive or fire.

Cantwell acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that he had pepper-sprayed a counter-demonstrator but insisted he was defending himself.

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