On December 4th we heard from Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America. Amy is sometimes referred to as a modern day Nazi-hunter. In this case, the Nazi’s are the neo-Nazis who joined forces with white nationalists and KKK members to rally in Charlottesville, VA in August, 2017. The crisis of violent, anti-Semitic, white nationalism is growing — and Integrity First for America’s Charlottesville lawsuit has emerged as a model for using the legal system to fight back.
The Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally was a call to raid the progressive college town and launch an all-out race war. On August 11th, they marched with torches and surrounded a group of students and community members on the University of Virginia campus. White nationalists pushed, punched, and threw lighted torches. They chanted “Jews will not replace us,” “blood and soil,” and “this is our town now.”
On August 12th, they marched military-style to Emancipation Park, shouting racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic slurs while brandishing weapons and Nazi symbols. They charged through a line of interfaith clergy. They attacked and assaulted many peaceful counter-protesters. After police dispersed them, James Fields drove his car into a crowd of protesters killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
Some of the truly shocking facts Amy noted include:
- The white nationalist organizers meticulously planned the attack on Charlottesville months in advance.
- The lawsuit provides a glimpse into the on-line discussions the defendants and alleged co-conspirators engaged in months before the rally. According to the suit, conversations on a gaming site called Discord covered the specific weapons to bring, including semi-automatic rifles, shields and armor. Also discussed was whether it was “legal to run over protesters,” dubbing the tactic of plowing through a crowd as a “protester digester.” There were even discussions on how to sew the Nazi symbol on their shirts and directions on what uniform to wear.
- In the two years since the “Unite the Right” rally, Charlottesville proved not to be an anomaly but a flashpoint foreshadowing a much larger crisis.
- Defendants in this civil case are a who’s who of the violent white supremacist movement — leaders like Richard Spencer, Andrew Anglin, Chris Cantwell, Matthew Heimbach, and hate groups such as Identity Europa, Vanguard America, and League of the South. They are at the center of this movement (with anti-Semitism at its core), with disturbing connections to the broader rise in white supremacist violence.
- The lawyers leading the case and the plaintiffs they represent have been threatened by some of the defendants, requiring protection for those participating.
Leading the plaintiffs’ case is Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who made history when she defeated the Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Now she’s seeking to combat the leadership behind America’s growing white nationalist movement to bankrupt them into obscurity and expose their sources of financing.
A trial date for this landmark case has been set for October 2020. While IFA is optimistic about its outcome, the case requires significant resources. The security and evidence collection costs are substantial. Every dollar donated to IFA supports this vital case.
For more information about the case, receive update and to make a donation, please go to https://www.integrityfirstforamerica.org/about-us