Andrew Anglin, a prominent neo-Nazi who founded the infamous Daily Stormer website, is now attempting to argue that his coordinated harassment of a Jewish woman is a form of protected speech.
According to CNN, Anglin organized an attack on Tonya Gersh which included harassing phone calls, a barage of violent and vulgar social media messages and emails, and the release of her personal information.
The specifics of the forms of harassment are quite horrifying. Gersh says strangers began photoshopping her image on to pictures of Jews in concentration camps, targeted her 12-year-old son, and left her voicemails with the sounds of gunshots.
Gersh says she feared for her life and the safety of her family and considered moving.
"These are not trolls. They are terrorists," she said. "They are very harmful, they are very malicious and they are dangerous."
The incident began after Gersh alerted tenants of a building owned by Sherry Spencer (mother of notorious alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer) about the potential for protests near their building. Gersh later advised Spencer to sell the building and donate the money to charity. Spencer then accused Gersh of threatening her livelihood for claiming that the value of her property would go down due to the demonstrations.
Anglin rushed to Spencer's defense and encouraged readers of his hate-filled website to attack Gersh in an organized "troll storm." Anglin claims he never encouraged anyone to make threats on Gersh's life.
Gersh and the Southern Poverty Law Center, is now suing Anglin for "invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of Montana's Anti-Intimidation act." The suit was filed in the US District Court for Montana. The case has implications for the future of The Daily Stormer, which may be shut down if Anglin loses. The site has already been forced onto the dark web after service providers refused to host its content.
"The only thing [Anglin] did was call for people to speak, but people want to draw the line for speech they don't like," said First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza, who is representing Anglin. "This is the price of admission to a free society. Even if you find Mr. Anglin's views abhorrent."
Anglin's whereabouts are currently unknown. His lawyers are arguing that the case should be thrown out.
"Even Nazi expression, no matter the psychic harm on Jewish residents, is nonetheless protected speech," say Anglin's lawyers. "Every word uttered by Mr. Anglin in this public dispute is protected by the First Amendment, no matter how many people find those views intolerable."
[Photo: Screenshot from YouTube]