SPLC files suit in Missoula against neo-Nazi’s “troll storm”
By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Tuesday against neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, alleging he inflicted emotional distress on a Whitefish real estate agent by mounting a cruel anti-Semitic campaign against her.
Anglin, a well-known neo-Nazi operating the Daily Stormer out of Ohio, is accused of running a terror campaign, or “troll storm,” against Whitefish resident Tanya Gersh.
The suit seeks damages and claims for relief on four counts, including invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Montana Anti-Intimidation Act, and malice.
“Mr. Anglin turned his horde of anti-Semitic fanatics loose on Ms. Gersh in a series of Daily Stormer articles he started publishing in December 2016,” the suit contends. “These articles caused his followers to overwhelm Ms. Gersh with hundreds of hateful and threatening anti-Semitic phone calls, voicemails, text messages, emails, letters, social media comments, and false online business reviews.”
To maximize the terrorizing effect on Gersh, the suit alleges that Anglin and his followers targeted her 12-year-old son and husband.
The suit also claims that Anglin urged his followers to make their opinions known and share how they are “sickened by the Jew agenda.”
“These communications contained countless slurs and threats designed to inflict maximum emotional damage on Ms. Gersh,” the suit claims. ”'[O]ven-dodging Christ killer,’ ‘Worthless fuckin kike’ and ‘slimy jewess’ appeared among scores of other repugnant epithets.”
According to the suit, Anglin justified his call to arms as retribution against Gersh, whom he accused of “extorting” a part-time Whitefish resident named Sherry Spencer.
Spencer is the mother of Richard Spencer, an infamous white nationalist who gained notoriety when a video emerged of him spouting racist rhetoric and declaring, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” at a gathering of white nationalists in Washington, D.C.
The suit by the Southern Poverty Law Center came well received by human rights supporters across Montana on Tuesday.
“Anglin doesn’t represent the values of equity and inclusivity that most Montanans displayed when they chose to support the people of Whitefish who were targeted by this hate,” said Rachel Carroll Rivas, Co-Director of the Montana Human Rights Network. “Montanans also value justice, and this suit seeks justice for the Gersh family and people of Whitefish.”
Rivas said human rights watchdogs will continue working to counter hate and inequality. Those targeted by hate deserve justice and peace, she said.
“In our democracy we have a legal system set up to address these types of issues,” Rivas said. “When radical right-wing extremists like Andrew Anglin use bully tactics to threaten, intimidate and harass through vigilante actions, there should be consequences.”