The Charlottesville Police Department is conducting a review of an employee after it received a recording of a phone call between her and a white nationalist charged with pepper-spraying anti-racist activists on Aug. 11.
Published on his website as part of a commentary on the arrest of activists who were protesting the conviction of Corey Long earlier this month, Chris Cantwell played a recording of his brief conversation with a department employee.
In the recording, after Cantwell commented on the arrests earlier that evening, the employee thanked Cantwell for his “support.”
“I’ve got to tell you, jail is too good for these people. They ought to be put through a wood chipper, and I’m glad you guys are cleaning up the streets,” Cantwell said, alluding to the people who were arrested.
“Well, that’s awesome,” the CPD employee said in response. “Thanks for your support.”
Cantwell goes on to say that the call is evidence that local police are sympathetic to his frustration with anti-racist activists, or “communists,” as he describes them.
“The cops in that city know who the problem is. They knew who problem was last August,” he said, alluding to last year’s deadly Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12. “Sadly, they’re handcuffed by the politics of this thing.”
Acknowledging the likelihood of public outcry over the recording, he added that that he “almost” feels bad for releasing the recording
“… I know people are going to jump down that nice girl’s throat,” he said. “Ma’am, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to cause you a problem. This wasn’t something I set up to embarrass you; I was just trying to make a joke about my rivals.”
In a news release Wednesday, city officials announced that the police department is reviewing the recording, but they did not release the identity of the employee and declined to comment further, citing the review as a personnel matter.
“When the department receives inquiries related to performance of its personnel, an internal review is conducted of the incident, the employee and our policies,” the statement says. “The city of Charlottesville and our police department want all employee interactions with the public to be fair, appropriate and within department guidelines at all times.”
Though the recording was published to Cantwell’s website on June 9, there had not been a public outcry over it until Tuesday evening, when several local activists responded to a Twitter user who shared a link to the recording and said a police official verified it was a CPD employee speaking to Cantwell.
Like Cantwell, Black Lives Matter activist and University of Virginia professor Jalane Schmidt alleged that the recording indicates that some local law enforcement officials are sympathetic to right-wing agitators.
In a tweet directed at Mayor Nikuyah Walker, Councilor Wes Bellamy and Councilor Heather Hill, Schmidt said CPD’s comments are “deplorable and underscores public mistrust of law enforcement.”
“The community is watching to see if the new Charlottesville police chief will make changes to hold her staff accountable,” Schmidt’s tweet says.
Walker, Hill and Bellamy did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.