A Jewish woman is suing a well known neo-Nazi blogger over harassment of herself and her family — including death threats and online attacks directed at her 12-year-old son.
Andrew Anglin, an Ohio man behind popular white supremacist website The Daily Stormer and a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, is accused of orchestrating a “troll storm” targeting Tanya Gersh, a Jewish woman in Montana. According to the complaint, Anglin directed his readers to berate Gersh with emails, tweets, phone calls, and other harassment over the course of several months.
The lawsuit alleges Anglin targeted Gersh after she became involved in a real estate deal with Sherry Spencer, the mother of well known white nationalist Richard Spencer.
In November 2016, Gersh reached out to Spencer about a planned protest outside a building that Spencer owns in downtown Whitefish, Montana. Gersh claims that she informed Spencer about the demonstrations, which were being planned in response to a viral video of her son Richard leading a “Hail Trump!” chant, and offered to help Spencer sell the building. According to the lawsuit, Gersh and Spencer began to discuss working together to sell-off the property.
But about a month later, on December 15, Sherry Spencer published a post on Medium claiming that Gersh was trying to extort her into selling the building and force her to publicly disavow her son’s hateful views. Richard Spencer tweeted a link to the blog with the message, “Nasty Tanya never lets ethics of common decency get in the way of a good deal.”
The next day, Anglin published a post on The Daily Stormer about Gersh. “Let’s Hit Em Up. Are y’all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm? Because AYO - it’s time, fam,” the post read. The post went viral, getting picked up by many blogs. Police in Whitefish increased patrols in response to Anglin’s call to “take action.”
After The Daily Stormer picked up the story, Anglin proceeded to publish, according to the complaint, as many as 30 posts directed at Gersh — publishing her contact information and directing readers to her online presences. “At last count, Ms. Gersh had received more than 700 instances of harassment against her family as a result of Mr. Anglin’s troll storm,” the complaint reads.
In emails to her personal account, Gersh says she received messages that read “Ratfaced criminals who play with fire tend to get thrown in the oven” and “This is the goylash. You remember the last goylash, don’t you Tanya? Merry Christmas, you Christ killing Jew.” She also says she received threatening messages to her work account that read, “Death to Tanya.”
Other messages to her work email copied her colleagues, stating, “You should fire and disavow Tanya Gersh for her unprofessional, illegal, and anti-white conduct. Do the rest of your agents engage in extortion and intimidation as well?”
According to the lawsuit, after Anglin’s initial post, Gersh received threatening phone calls at home. One caller said, “You should have died in the Holocaust with the rest of your people.” Another call consisted solely of the sounds of guns being fired.
Gersh’s personal Twiter account was also tagged in tweets with anti-semitic messages. One tweet reads, “Hickory dickory dock, the kike ran up the clock. The clock struck three and Internet Nazis trolls gassed the rest of them.”
According to the lawsuit, Anglin also targeted Gersh’s 12-year-old son in his posts. In his first post about Gersh on December 16, Anglin called him a “scamming little kike” and a “creepy little faggot.” After this was posted, Twitter users began to target the 12-year-old with tweets — one tweet read, “psst kid, there’s a free Xbox One inside the oven” and included a photo of an oven.
In the complaint, Gersh says that since the “troll storm” started she has experienced symptoms such as panic attacks and trouble sleeping. She says she now fears answering her phone or leaving her house.
On a conference call Tuesday, Gersh said that she has “never been so scared in my entire life,” adding that the harassment “still hasn’t stopped completely.”
She said that at one point she came home to a dark house, her husband inside with all the lights off and their luggage packed. “We really thought we had to run for safety in the middle of the night,” Gersh said.
“This was really terrorism,” she said. “We didn’t get teased, we got terrorized.”
Gersh, who is being represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Montana attorney James Morrison, is accusing Anglin in the lawsuit of invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malice, and violating the Montana Anti-Intimidation Act. She is seeking no less than $300,000 in damages. No other defendants are named in the lawsuit.
Anglin did not immediately respond to a request to comment for this article.
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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