More than seven months after a Whitefish woman initially sued the publisher of a neo-Nazi website who called for a “troll storm” against her, the case is beginning to move forward.
In April, attorneys with the South Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Tanya Gersh of Whitefish against Andrew Anglin, who on his website The Daily Stormer called for readers to harass Gersh and her family over her dealings with the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.
The suit, filed in the Missoula branch of U.S. District Court, alleges that Anglin instigated a series of hateful and anti-Semitic messages, voicemails, emails and letters against Gersh, her husband and her son.
"Hickory dickory dock, the (anti-Semitic slur) ran up the clock. The clock struck three and Internet Nazi trolls gassed the rest of them," read one comment Gersh received on social media, according to the complaint.
Gersh’s lawsuit said the verbal attacks started by Anglin — who called for a “troll storm” against her — are an invasion of her privacy, have inflicted emotional distress that has caused her to go to therapy, and violate Montana’s Anti-Intimidation Act.
In a story he published on his site in December, Anglin included Gersh’s contact information along with allegations that she tried to extort money from the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer, who is a part-time Whitefish resident. Anglin also attempted to organize an armed march through the town on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — an event he planned to call the "James Earl Ray Day Extravaganza” after King's assassin — but the march never occurred.
Spencer’s mother Sherry, who owns a commercial building in Whitefish, called Gersh — a real estate agent — in November last year after locals became angry with her son’s connections to the white nationalist movement. According to the lawsuit, Gersh encouraged Sherry Spencer to consider selling the building.
But weeks later Sherry Spencer wrote a blog post accusing Gersh of having threatened to extort her and force her to sell the property and donate the proceeds.
Since Anglin’s post, Gersh has received threats that include “Thanks for demonstrating why your race needs to be collectively ovened,” and “You will be driven to the brink of suicide & We will be there to take pleasure in your pain & eventual end,” according to the suit.
Anglin also "urged his followers to seek Ms. Gersh out in person: 'And hey — if you're in the area, maybe you should stop by and tell her in person what you think of her actions.' "
Throughout the summer, The Daily Stormer ran into issues staying online, with multiple domain registrars refusing to host the site. Most recently, the site is registered by a Hong Kong registrar, and links to it appear in Google search results. The website includes a link for readers to donate to Anglin’s legal defense, saying “The Daily Stormer is being sued by Jewish terrorists.”
For months after filing the lawsuit, Gersh and her attorneys attempted to locate Anglin to serve him with a copy without success, and have written in court documents that Las Vegas attorney Marc Randazza — who told the Associated Press this summer he is representing Anglin in the case — has not returned their letters or voicemails.
Certified mail sent to several addresses in Franklin County, Ohio, that are believed to be related to Anglin came back as undelivered. Gersh’s attorneys eventually met the court criteria for serving the lawsuit by publishing a notice in the local newspaper for six weeks.
Since that time, Randazza has filed court paperwork that he, in addition to another attorney at his firm, are officially representing Anglin. In addition, Missoula attorney Mat Stevenson has filed a court notice of representation that says he has been hired by Anglin.
The case has deadlines set for December for attorneys from both sides to work out details of sharing discovery and dates for filing further paperwork.