A Jewish woman is suing the founder of the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, for allegedly orchestrating a “campaign of terror” that led to thousands of anonymous online trolls targeting her and her family.
Andrew Anglin in Italy
According to the federal lawsuit, a barrage of emails, phone calls, texts and social media comments were directed against Tanya Gersh and her family, including her 12-year-old son, with threats, slurs and Holocaust references, The Associated Press reported.
The campaign against Gersh began last December after the founder of the Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, published the family’s personal information online, including her son’s Twitter handle and photo. Anglin accused Gersh and other Jewish residents of the Montana city of Whitefish of engaging in an “extortion racket” against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Andrew Anglin at a hate march.
“I’ve never experienced that kind of fear in my life,” Gersh told The Associated Press.
We got terrorized,” she said, describing multiple death threats, including photoshopped pictures of her and her 12-year old son being murdered by Nazis, and phone calls that included gun shots.
“I’m no longer working, I’m in trauma therapy twice a week, I’m losing my hair,” she said. “I’m having anxieties I never had before. Most importantly, I’m never feeling safe.”
Anglin posted a screed titled “Jews Targeting Richard Spencer’s Mother for Harassment and Extortion – TAKE ACTION!” He included Gersh’s home address and phone, her husband’s business contact information, and the Twitter handle of her 12-year old son, whom he referred to in abusive terms.
“Please call her and tell her what you think,” Anglin said. “And hey — if you’re in the area, maybe you should stop by and tell her in person what you think of her actions.”
Referring to Gersh’s son, Anglin advised his readers to “hit up” the boy’s Twitter account. “Tell them what you think of his w**** mother’s vicious attack on the community of Whitefish,” Anglin wrote.
Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a watchdog group that monitors hate crimes, is representing Gersh in the lawsuit. He said the case could set a precedent for targeting hate groups in the digital age.
“In the old days, they would have burned a cross on Tanya’s front lawn. Now, in the digital age, they launch a troll storm,” Cohen said.