Christopher Cantwell, the white supremacist featured in a widely viewed Vice News documentary on the Charlottesville white nationalist rally earlier this month, was also featured in a 2014 episode of The Colbert Report as a “difference maker” for his role in a group that frequently harassed parking meter attendants.
Cantwell was arrested Wednesday over his role in the Charlottesville demonstrations. Campus police at the University of Virginia had sought him for three felony charges: two counts of illegal use of tear gas and one count of malicious bodily injury with a “caustic substance,” explosive, or fire.
Cantwell was propelled into infamy by the Vice documentary, in which he offered racist critiques of black and Jewish people, confirmed that his movement was violent, and defended the killing of Heather Heyer — the 32-year-old woman who was fatally struck by a driver identified as a white supremacist — as “justified.”
“I’m carrying a pistol, I go to the gym all the time, I’m trying to make myself more capable of violence,” he told Vice correspondent Elle Reeve, later predicting that “a lot more people are going to die before we’re done here.”
In his Colbert Report appearance, however, Cantwell’s antics were related less to the white nationalist cause, and more to a supposed libertarian notion that parking meter attendants were symptomatic of “government overreach.” The popular Colbert segment “Difference Makers” often featured various individuals or groups defending what they believed to be self-righteous causes, while being mocked all the while by Stephen Colbert’s deadpan narration.
In the segment, Cantwell and his fellow members of the Free Keene Squad — in Keene, New Hampshire — were shown filming themselves putting coins in parking meters before the attendants could write tickets, and later following and harassing the attendants.
“Yes, this may look like the Free Keene Squad are being total dicks to innocent meter maids — but if that were true, why doesn’t anyone stop them?” Colbert asked in a voiceover, before cutting to an interview with Cantwell.
“I find that when I carry a gun, people are very unlikely to hit me,” he said, to the sound of laughter from Colbert’s studio audience.
Watch the full Colbert Report clip below:
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