RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Attorneys who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in connection with a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, asked a judge Tuesday to order one of the men who participated in the violence to stop making “unlawful threats” against the plaintiffs and their lead attorney.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville, lawyers for 10 people who were hurt during two days of violence in August 2017 said Christopher Cantwell recently focused “his hateful rhetoric” on attorney Roberta Kaplan.
They allege that Cantwell, responding to an article about Kaplan in a Jewish publication, on June 18 used an anti-Semitic slur on a social media website when referring to Kaplan and wrote that after she “loses this fraudulent lawsuit, we’re going to have a lot of (expletive) fun with her.”
In their motion, the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote: Cantwell’s “threat against Ms. Kaplan is troubling, distracting and distressing.”
The lawyers said they fear that Cantwell’s behavior could jeopardize the safety of the plaintiffs and their attorneys, as well as their right to a fair trial.
Cantwell, of Keene, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty to assault after he was accused of using pepper spray against two counterprotesters during a torchlit white nationalist rally at the University of Virginia on Aug. 11, 2017.
The following day, one woman was killed and dozens were injured when avowed white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, last week was sentenced to life in prison on federal hate crime charges and faces a separate sentencing later this month on state murder charges.
The lawsuit accuses the white nationalists of violating state and federal civil rights laws. It seeks a jury trial, asks for monetary damages and a court ruling prohibiting the white nationalists and other groups from committing further civil rights violations.
Cantwell, responding to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment on the motion to order him to stop making threats, used an anti-Semitic slur when referring to Kaplan and called the lawsuit a “(expletive) fraud.”
Cantwell said he was miles away from the location where Fields struck the counterprotesters with his car and said he never met Fields before he saw him in jail.
“She is literally claiming that our ‘ideology’ caused someone else to commit a crime, and that I am somehow liable for this,” he wrote in an email.