A judge in the United States has said £11 million ($14 million) should be paid to a Jewish American woman after the publisher of a white nationalist news site encouraged followers to bombard her with hate mail.
Estate agent Tanya Gersh was subjected to months of harassment after Andrew Anglin, publisher of the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, posted her contact details and called for a “troll storm” against her.
Gersh lives in Whitefish, Montana – the same town as prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer, and was targeted for abuse in December 2016 after he claimed she was trying to “extort and threaten” his mother, Sherry Spencer.
The Daily Stormer posted Gersh’s photo, phone numbers, email address and social media profiles, as well as those of her husband and colleagues. It even included a link to an account for Gersh’s 12-year old son.
“I’ve been told: ‘You really should have died in the Holocaust with the rest of your people’,” she told The Guardian in 2017. “Sometimes, when I answered the phone, all I heard were gunshots.”
Gersh said she had to stop working for fear that she would be targeted by someone posting as a buyer, and this week US magistrate judge Jeremiah Lynch said she should get $10 million in punitive damages, the maximum allowed in Montana.
He said the harassment was of a “particularly egregious and reprehensible nature” and said $4 million should also be set aside for lost earnings, and pain and suffering. If a US district judge agrees with Lynch’s assessment, it will be binding.
Anglin, who claims to live outside the United States and did not show up for the hearing, argued through lawyers that his posts were protected by the first amendment, but the judge disagreed, to Gersh’s relief.
“This lawsuit has always been about stopping others from enduring the terror I continue to live through at the hands of a neo-Nazi and his followers, and I wanted to make sure that this never happens to anyone else,” she said.
Anglin this week defended Donald Trump for telling four Democratic congresswomen of colour to “go home,” despite three of them having been born in the US. “This is the kind of white nationalism we elected him for,” Anglin was quoted as saying.
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