WASHINGTON — A Montana Jewish woman, backed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is suing a neo-Nazi white supremacist for launching a harassment campaign against her and her family.
Tanya Gersh, announcing her lawsuit Tuesday against Andrew Anglin, the founder of the Daily Stormer website, said in a conference call that she has lost income and has suffered because of the attacks unleashed on her after Anglin posted her personal information on his neo-Nazi website in December.
“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.”
At times during the conference call organized by the SPLC, a hate groups watchdog, she broke down.
The federal lawsuit seeks compensation for Gersh’s losses and punitive damages and cites Montana state and federal laws protecting individuals from the invasion of privacy and from “intentionally inflicting emotional distress,” according to an SPLC release.
It does not list damages, but in the conference call, Richard Cohen, the SPLC president, said: “We’re going to also seek a very, very substantial monetary damage award to punish Anglin.”
Anglin launched the campaign against Gersh after Sherry Spencer, the Whitefish, Montana-based mother of another white supremacist, Richard Spencer, posted an article on Medium accusing Gersh of threatening her with harassment if she did not sell the commercial building she owns in the town. Richard Spencer spends time in Whitefish, and there was talk at the time of staging protests outside the building.
Gersh, a realtor, contends that Sherry Spencer initiated contact, seeking to sell her building to head off the protests and to calm the town roiled by the rising profile of her son, who garnered media attention for his support of the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.
Nothing in the email exchanges Sherry Spencer attached to her Medium post suggests Gersh was trying to coerce Spencer; instead, Gersh’s tone is deferential and sympathetic, and she says she is cutting her commission to the lowest percentage possible in order to facilitate the sale.
Anglin, on December 16, a day after Sherry Spencer’s claims appeared on Medium, 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 (sic) what you think of his whore mother’s vicious attack on the community of Whitefish,” Anglin wrote.
Anglin, in a subsequent post three days later, accused the “lying Jew media” of distorting his original post, citing liberal news websites that reported that he had called on his followers to harass Gersh and had posted her home address.
He said he “purposefully” left out home addresses, although the address he included is listed as the Gersh residence, and insisted, “I called for people to express their feelings about these threats and this harassment and extortion to the people responsible — and somehow I’m the threatener and harasser!”