Judge Awards $700,000 in Damages to Target of Neo-Nazi Harassment
|thenorthstar||Aug 12, 2019|
Nfederal judge ruled on August 9 that a white supremacist must pay more than $700,000 to a Black woman after using his neo-Nazi website to encourage his followers to send her racist, sexist, and threatening messages.
Taylor Dumpson, the first Black woman to serve as president of American University’s (AU) student government, alleged in her lawsuit that Andrew Anglin, the founder and publisher of the Daily Stormer, incited a racist “troll storm” against her in 2017. Anglin and his follower Brian Andrew Ade, were ordered to pay more than $700,000 to Dumpson after the two relentlessly harassed her.
The harassment began on May 1, 2017, a day after Dumpson was inaugurated as AU’s student government president. According to court documents, a masked man hung nooses with bananas that featured written racist and derogatory messages on AU’s campus. Dumpson was believed to be “the primary target of the hate crime.”
Court documents reveal that after the media covered the racist incident, Anglin posted an article attacking Dumpson on the Daily Stormer. He followed up by publishing her name, photo, and links to her personal Facebook account and the AU Student Government Twitter account. Anglin encouraged his followers to “troll storm” Dumpson online. “Be sure to send her some words of support on Facebook, and hit up the AU Student Government on Twitter. Let her know that you fully support her struggle against bananas,” he instructed his followers.
Dumpson’s Facebook accounts and the AU, AU Student Government, and AU Student Government President Twitter accounts were then targeted with racist messages. Ade sent several racist messages, including ones in which he refers to Dumpson as a “sheboon” and a chimpanzee.
After receiving the messages, Dumpson feared for her life and was terrified of leaving her home at night, court documents said. She also carried an alarm key-ring and pepper spray for self defense. Her academics and for law school preparation suffered during this time.
Beginning from July 2017, Dumpson received psychiatric counseling and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an eating disorder, depression, and anxiety, the court documents revealed.
In her ruling, US District Judge Rosemary Collyer said that Anglin’s actions “were racially motivated and intentionally resulted in a campaign of racial and gender harassment.”
“The extent of the troll storm was significant and Mr. Anglin, through the Daily Stormer, intended the result and was reckless in his actions,” Judge Collyer wrote.
The judge also found that Ade’s messages were an “intentional campaign of discrimination” because of Dumpson’s race and gender. “Such remarks regarding race and gender went far beyond the bounds of decency and were intolerable to the average or reasonable person in a civilized society, much less a university,” Judge Collyer found.
The two men were ordered to pay $101,429.28 in compensatory damages, $500,000 in punitive damages, and $124,022.10 in attorneys’ fees and costs. Anglin and Ade are also barred from contacting Dumpson or posting anything online about her.
“This judgement against anti-Semitic troll Andrew Anglin is a key victory in the war against hate,” an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) spokesperson told The North Star. “It sends a clear message: online hate mongering and abuse will not be tolerated.”
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, which represented Dumpson, told The Washington Post that the decision could be used by other litigators against the online activities of white supremacists.
“We think that this essentially opens up a new avenue to attack the dangerous activities of white supremacists in our country,” Clarke told the newspaper. “I would expect that other litigators will be able to use the ruling in this case to seek justice on behalf of other victims of hate crimes.”
The ruling came just a day after a federal judge in Montana agreed with a lower court that Anglin had to pay $14 million to a woman who was targeted by anti-Semitic and threatening messages online after he instructed his followers to “troll storm” her, BuzzFeed News reported.
The original recommendation for the multi-million dollar judgement was made by Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch on July 15, who found Anglin “acted with actual malice.” The Daily Stormer publisher told his followers: “Let’s Hit Em Up. Are y’all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm? Because AYO — it’s time, fam.”
Anglin’s followers responded by unleashing a series of racist and threatening messages to Tanya Gersh, a Montana real estate agent, her colleagues, and her family.
US District Court Judge Dana Christensen agreed with Lynch’s July recommendation on August 9 and ordered Anglin to pay more than $200,000 for lost earnings and medical expenses, $821,000 for future lost earnings, and $3 million for past and future pain and suffering, according to BuzzFeed News. Anglin was also ordered to pay $10 million in punitive damages for Anglin’s “particularly egregious and reprehensible” behavior.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.