Anglin faces a federal lawsuit for encouraging the harassment of a Jewish woman and her family in Whitefish, Montana.
The Southern Poverty Law Center announced it is filing a federal lawsuit against Andrew Anglin, the founder of the Daily Stormer, a neo-nazi website, for the harassment of Tanya Gersh in Whitefish, Montana last year.
Tanya Gersh, who is Jewish, is one of many people Anglin encouraged his readers to harass. Last December, Anglin urged white supremacists to “troll” people they considered to be Jewish in Whitefish, Montana, falsely claiming that they were “targeting” Sherry Spencer, the mother of white supremacist Richard Spencer. Gersh said she has received hundreds of threatening emails, text messages, and voicemails, many of them referencing the Holocaust. There are at least 14 posts tagged with her name on the Daily Stormer website.
“I once answered the phone and all I heard were gunshots. One time I answered the phone and heard, ‘You really should have died in the Holocaust with the rest of your people… This was so far beyond harassment. This was really terrorism,” Gersh said on a press call on Tuesday. “My sense of safety is forever changed.”
Gersh recalled a night when she came home to her husband sitting in a “completely dark house with suitcases in our room” and he said to her, “We have no idea what kind of danger we’re in.”
“I think I broke when they directed attacks at my kids,” Gersh said.
In his Daily Stormer post, Anglin cited a Daily Mail article in which Sherry Spencer said her son’s “extreme positions” are hurting her business. Spencer owns a commercial building and she was considering selling it. The Daily Mail piece does not go into any great detail as to how exactly residents of the town are causing her financial distress by disagreeing with her son. Sherry Spencer accused Love Lives Here, a peace organization, of having something to do with harming her financially, but the Daily Mail provides no proof of this, and the organization told the Mail it “‘did not know what she (was) talking about.’” Gersh’s remarks to her local television station were placed in the Mail article.
During the press call, Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said residents of Whitefish were considering a protest of Sherry Spence’s commercial building due to a belief that she was supporting white nationalist activities through the rent she received. Sherry Spencer reached out to Gersh to “help her sell the building and distance herself from her son’s activities,” but had a “change of heart.”
Although Anglin’s article never mentions anyone’s religion, he claimed that Jewish people, who he described as a “vicious, evil race of hate-filled psychopaths,” were harassing Sherry Spencer and called for a “troll storm.” Anglin published social media accounts, photos, phone numbers, and email address of members of Love Lives Here, which he called a “terrorist group.” Anglin also encouraged the harassment of a local real estate owner and her family and published their photos and addresses.
The post read:
“Are y’all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm?
Because AYO — it’s that time, fam.
And as always: NO VIOLENCE OR THREATS OF VIOLENCE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE TO THAT.
Just make your opinions known. Tell them you are sickened by their Jew agenda to attack and harm the mother of someone whom they disagree with.
Anglin has targeted Infowars host Alex Jones because he married a Jewish woman and called his campaign “Operation: Jew Wife.” He has promoted hashtags to fuel racist activity online, such as #WhiteGenocide and #RaceWarNow and has started various disinformation campaigns in an attempt to trick the media into reporting on them. He instructed readers to use Facebook to create fake ‘White Student Union” pages.
Anglin has attempted to distance himself from violent acts committed by white supremacists. Anglin argued that the murder of Timothy Caughman, who was fatally stabbed in New York City by James Jackson, a man who belonged to a hate group, had “nothing at all to do with the religion of White Supremacy.” He claimed that white supremacists would “be subject to unfair scrutiny and prejudice” due to the attack. Jackson, however, specifically mentioned the Daily Stormer when explaining his views on race to the press after he committed the murder.
According to a 2015 New America study, in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, nearly twice as many people were killed in the United States by white supremacists and anti-government radicals than by Muslim extremists. One of those white supremacists, Dylann Roof, who killed nine African Americans as they attended church, may have been a regular commenter on the Daily Stormer website. Statements from his manifesto were found almost verbatim in the comments of a user called AryanBlood1488.
Southern Poverty Law Center files lawsuit against founder of neo-nazi site Andrew Anglin was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.