September 26, 2020 | website | No Comments
Photo: Ben Allan Smith, AP
Attorneys for a Montana real estate agent are eyeing the assets of a neo-Nazi website operator to collect a $14 million court judgment against the man for an anti-Semitic online “troll storm” that he orchestrated against the Jewish woman and her family, court filings show.
More than a year has passed since a federal judge in Montana entered a default judgment against Andrew Anglin, the Daily Stormer’s founder and publisher. Plaintiffs’ lawyers say the Ohio native has failed to pay any of the monetary award to Tanya Gersh.
Gersh’s attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center say they intend to identify any of Anglin’s assets that could be used to satisfy the judgment. Trying to seize Anglin’s assets will be “time-consuming and extremely complex” given his lack of cooperation and history of holding assets in cryptocurrency rather than more traditional forms, law center lawyers wrote in a filing last month.
In August 2019, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered Anglin to pay $4 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages to Gersh. The judge also ordered Anglin to permanently remove from his website the posts in which he encouraged readers to contact Gersh and her family. Anglin eventually complied with that part of the judge’s order, according to Gersh’s lawyers.
Other targets of Anglin’s online harassment campaigns also secured default judgments against him after he failed to respond to their respective lawsuits.
In June 2019, a federal judge in Ohio awarded $4.1 million in damages to Muslim-American radio host Dean Obeidallah, who filed a libel lawsuit against Anglin for falsely accusing him of terrorism. Obeidallah said he received death threats after Anglin published an article that tricked readers into believing he took responsibility for the May 2017 terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert
Muslim Advocates staff attorney Matt Callahan said the group, which represents Obeidallah, remains dedicated to collecting the judgment and holding Anglin accountable.
“Mr. Anglin cannot hide forever from the consequences of his false and hateful statements,” Callahan said in a statement.
In August 2019, a federal judge in Washington entered another default judgment against Anglin and awarded just over $600,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to the first Black woman to serve as American University’s student government president.
Taylor Dumpson’s lawsuit said Anglin directed his readers to “troll storm” her after someone hung bananas with hateful messages from nooses on the university’s campus a day after her May 2017 inauguration as student government president.
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law executive director Kristen Clarke, whose organization represents Dumpson, said they are working closely with the Alabama-based SPLC and others to collect on the judgments.
“Collection of these judgments is a critical part of our ongoing work to confront and diminish the footprint of white supremacy in our country,” Clarke said in a statement.
Anglin and some other defendants also face a possible default judgment in a federal lawsuit filed in Virginia by victims of violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. The judge presiding over the case, which is set for trial next year against several other far-right extremist groups and rally organizers, hasn’t settled on an amount of money for Anglin or the others to pay.
“We are prepared to follow these defendants around for the rest of their lives to collect on these judgments. That includes seizing any assets, putting liens on their homes, garnishing wages,” said Integrity First for America executive director Amy Spitalnick, whose civil rights group is backing the Charlottesville lawsuit.
Anglin’s whereabouts have been a mystery, although he has claimed to be living outside the U.S. The federal court in Montana entered a default order against Anglin after he failed to appear for his scheduled deposition by Gersh’s attorneys. At the time, Anglin claimed it was too dangerous for him to travel to the U.S.
Anglin’s site takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda. The site includes sections called “Jewish Problem” and “Race War.” For months, the site struggled to stay online after Anglin published a post mocking the woman who was killed when a man plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville three years ago.
In the lawsuit she filed in Montana against Anglin in April 2017, Gersh says anonymous internet trolls bombarded her family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published their personal information, including a photo of her young son. In a string of posts, Anglin accused Gersh and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an “extortion racket” against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Gersh says she had agreed to help Spencer’s mother sell commercial property she owns in Whitefish amid talk of a protest outside the building. Sherry Spencer, however, later accused Gersh of threatening and harassing her into agreeing to sell the property.