Neo-Nazi web­site raises $150,000 to fight law­suit

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Matt Pearce matt.pearce@la­times.com

A neo-Nazi blog­ger has been promised do­na­tions of more than $150,000 for his le­gal de­fense af­ter the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter sued him for or­ga­niz­ing a “troll storm” against a Jewish woman in Mon­tana.

The do­na­tions to An­drew Anglin and the web­site he founded, the Daily Stormer, came in over the course of less than two months on a crowd­fund­ing site that caters to far-right causes, over­com­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties that white na­tion­al­ists of­ten face in rais­ing money on­line.

The main­stream crowd­fund­ing web­sites GoFundMe and Kick­starter have poli­cies for­bid­ding fundrais­ers that pro­mote hate speech.

The do­na­tions to sup­port Anglin were made pos­si­ble by a Cal­i­for­nia-based site called WeSearchr, which has at­tracted donors hop­ing to fund ral­lies for the far­right and post “boun­ties” for dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about lib­er­als, left­ists and mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans such as Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona.

WeSearchr is run by Chuck C. Johnson, a Los An­ge­les blog­ger and rightwing provo­ca­teur who was banned from Twitter in 2015 af­ter so­lic­it­ing do­na­tions to sup­port “tak­ing out” prom­i­nent black ac­tivist DeRay Mckes­son.

Johnson’s busi­ness is set up to profit from peo­ple who want to do­nate to con­tro­ver­sial causes. It keeps 15% of ev­ery do­na­tion, or three times the base rate of GoFundMe and Kick­starter. That’s more than $22,000 of the money pledged for Anglin.

“All are wel­come to fundraise on my prop­er­ties,” Johnson said to The Times in an email.

“Like my men­tor Alan Der­showitz my po­si­tion is the same as the ACLU’s was in Skokie: free speech even for the speech we dis­like,” he wrote, re­fer­ring to a 1978 le­gal case in which the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union de­fended the right of neoNazis to march in Skokie, Ill. “In re­cent years there’s been an ef­fort to move into a more cen­sor­ing en­vi­ron­ment on the Internet.”

Der­showitz, the fa­mous Har­vard Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus who re­port­edly once em­ployed Johnson as a re­searcher, did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment.

Most of the Daily Stormer’s donors on WeSearchr are anony­mous, with the ex­cep­tion of co­me­dian Sam Hyde, who pledged $5,000.

When con­tacted for com­ment, Hyde asked the re­porter whether he was Jewish, and then boasted that $5,000 was noth­ing to him. Hyde’s TV show on Car­toon Net­work’s “Adult Swim” pro­gram­ming block was can­celed last year, but not be­fore he amassed a fol­low­ing among the loosely knit move­ment of white na­tion­al­ists, misog­y­nists and an­ti­Semites that has come to be known as the alt-right.

“Don’t worry so much about money. Worry about if peo­ple start de­cid­ing to kill re­porters. That’s a quote,” Hyde said in a phone in­ter­view, laugh­ing, when asked why he donated to sup­port the Daily Stormer. “For the rea­son why, you can say I want re­porters to know I make more money than them, espe­cially Matt Pearce.”

The Daily Stormer, thought to be the Internet’s most pop­u­lar neo-Nazi web­site, is named af­ter the Ger­man Nazi tabloid “Der Stürmer” and fea­tures sec­tions ti­tled “Jewish Prob­lem” and “Race War.” The anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-Mus­lim ar­ti­cles are of­ten writ­ten by Anglin, who is in his early 30s and from Ohio.

“The only op­tion now is charis­matic lead­ers and rev­o­lu­tion,” Anglin wrote in a post Mon­day ar­gu­ing that the West was be­ing “in­vaded and con­quered” by Mus­lims. “That is my pur­pose. I want you boys to be ready for war. Be­cause a war is com­ing.”

The Daily Stormer claims to be a non­profit on its do­na­tion page, but it is not listed as a non­profit with the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Service or in Ohio, where the site’s name is reg­is­tered.

Anglin made head­lines in De­cem­ber when he ac­cused a White­fish, Mont., real es­tate agent, who is Jewish, of try­ing to ex­tort money from the mother of Richard Spencer, one of the na­tion’s most prom­i­nent white na­tion­al­ists. The real es­tate agent, Tanya Gersh, de­nies the claim.

On Dec. 16, Anglin asked his read­ers to start a “troll storm” against Gersh and posted her ad­dress and phone num­ber as well the Twitter ac­count be­long­ing to Gersh’s 12-year-old son, whom Anglin re­ferred to us­ing a deroga­tory word for Jewish peo­ple. “You can also leave a re­view of her busi­ness on Google, and per­haps note that it is [a] front for an ex­tor­tion racket,” Anglin wrote in the first of many posts about Gersh.

Gersh said she was bar­raged by ha­rass­ment, and the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, a non­profit that tracks ex­trem­ist groups and some­times drives them into bank­ruptcy through law­suits, sued Anglin on her be­half, al­leg­ing in­va­sion of pri­vacy, in­tim­i­da­tion and inf lic­tion of emo­tional dis­tress.

In re­sponse, the Daily Stormer posted a “SAVE THE STORMER!” no­tice on the site and claimed it was be­ing sued by “Jewish ter­ror­ists.” “This site will be shut down if we don’t win this.”

“The site is ex­tremely pop­u­lar and peo­ple feel very strongly about it,” Anglin said in an email to The Times when asked about the $150,000 fundraiser.

Anglin said that many of his sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Johnson, didn’t agree with his views. “Peo­ple also feel very strongly about free speech, and look at at­tacks on free speech as some­thing that needs [to be] fought against,” he said.

Anglin also ac­cused the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter and the Anti-Defama­tion League, a Jewish anti-ex­trem­ism group, of try­ing to si­lence con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected speech by shut­ting down “my ac­cess to PayPal, credit card pro­ces­sors, [the crowd­fund­ing site] Pa­treon, ad­ver­tis­ers, even web­hosts, with threats to de­fame th­ese com­pa­nies in the me­dia.”

Richard Co­hen, the pres­i­dent of the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, said he was sur­prised that Anglin was able to raise the money so quickly, say­ing that Anglin’s pop­u­lar­ity was rooted in “vi­cious, in­cen­di­ary racist rhetoric.”

Co­hen also noted a prob­lem with the case against Anglin: lo­cat­ing him to serve him with the law­suit. A process server has tried un­suc­cess­fully to find Anglin at sev­eral ad­dresses in Ohio, Co­hen said. “We are quite ea­ger to take his tes­ti­mony and to face him in court.”

Anglin did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a mes­sage ask­ing him where he was.

Dan Chung South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter

THE SOUTH­ERN Poverty Law Cen­ter is su­ing on be­half of Tanya Gersh, a Jewish Mon­tanan who is the tar­get of a “troll storm” by the Daily Stormer web­site.

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