Experts detail the impact of the Charlottesville lawsuit
In June 2020, neo-Nazi defendant Richard Spencer told the court that our Charlottesville lawsuit is “financially crippling,” and complained that he can’t raise money because he has been deplatformed from various sites.
As Spencer’s comments illustrate, IFA’s Charlottesville lawsuit has already had major financial, legal, and operational impacts on the neo-Nazi and white supremacist defendants — even before we get to trial. By bankrupting and dismantling the groups and leaders at the center of this violent movement, IFA’s case will ensure those responsible for the violence are held accountable and win justice for our plaintiffs — with impacts that extend well beyond Charlottesville.
Sanctions and Jail Time
The court has granted a number of our plaintiffs’ motions for sanctions against the defendants:
- In Octonber 2021, the magistrate judge granted our plaintiffs' motion for evidentiary sanctions, known as adverse inferences, against neo-Nazi Matthew Heimbach, citing the defendant's history of discovery misconduct. Plaintiffs have now won adverse inferences against five defendants, which will have a significant impact at trial.
- In September 2021, the court granted our plaintiffs' motion for evidentiary sanctions against neo-Nazi Robert "Azzmador" Ray. The sanctions mean that the court will treat as established fact many of the core elements of our case, including that Ray "entered into an agreement with one or more coconspirators to engage in racially-motivated violence in Charlottesville," on August 11 and August 12, 2017.
- In June 2021, the court granted our plaintiffs' motions for evidentiary sanctions, known as adverse inferences, against the National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi organization in America at the start of our lawsuit.
- In March 2021, the court granted our plaintiffs' motions for evidentiary sanctions against defendants neo-Nazi Robert "Azzmador" Ray and white supremacist group Vanguard America. Ray had previously been found in contempt of court and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest; Vanguard had previously been sanctioned over $16,000.
- In November 2020, the court granted our plaintiffs’ motion for evidentiary sanctions against neo-Nazi defendant Elliott Kline (aka Eli Mosley). In a huge win for our plaintiffs, it is now established fact in our case that Kline conspired to commit racially-motivated violence in Charlottesville in 2017.
- In May 2020, Matthew Heimbach, Elliott Kline, and Vanguard America were ordered to pay $41,300 in sanctions after they repeatedly flouted court orders.
- In January 2020, Kline was also jailed and ordered to pay a separate $5,800 after being held in contempt of court.
- In April 2019, Jeff Schoep was sanctioned by the court. In May 2020, he was ordered to pay additional attorneys’ fees.
A number of defendants are also facing additional pending sanctions motions.
Default has already been entered against seven defendants: Nationalist Front; Andrew Anglin; Moonbase Holdings LLC; East Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; Fraternal Order of the Alt-Knights; Augustus Invictus; and Loyal White Knights of the KKK.
Experts in extremism have highlighted how IFA's lawsuit has driven some extremists out of the white supremacist movement, caused disruption to these groups and their leaders, and deterred other extremists from engaging in similar activity.
A few defendants have tried to rebrand. Identity Evropa now calls itself American Identity Movement; Vanguard America members have also rebranded as Patriot Front. No matter how they may rebrand, our team will ensure they face accountability for their actions in Charlottesville.
Other defendants have claimed they are leaving the white supremacist movement, although many have doubts. As we’ve said, if these defendants truly want to change, there is one way to do so: comply with our plaintiffs’ discovery requests, stop lying, and tell the truth about their role in what happened in Charlottesville in August 2017. Anything less is a sham. We live in a country of laws. If Mr. Schoep and Mr. Heimbach have truly reformed their old ways, then they need to demonstrate that by complying with the law, cooperating in our case, and taking responsibility for their actions.
Other defendants have complained about the case’s impact.
In addition to his comments about the suit being “financially crippling,” Richard Spencer has said that, “This lawsuit that I’m facing is just totally detrimental to what I’m doing. I don’t want to go into some public event where I could be blamed if something goes wrong.” He went on to say, “If we can simply be sued if anyone on the other side gets hurt, we can’t do anything publicly. This [lawsuit] needs to be answered. I’m just not ready to do something right now and if I do, it is going to be on my own terms.”
Michael Hill of League of the South blamed the suit when his hate group could not open a new building; “I want us to have a new League building in Alabama...” “...But because of pending lawsuits, we are not going to be moving forward officially with fundraising at this time.”
A number of other defendants, including National Socialist Movement, Identity Evropa, the Daily Stormer, and Christopher Cantwell, have complained that the cost of the litigation – combined with being deplatformed from payment processors – has hurt them financially.
Matthew Parrott tweeted in September 2021 that the lawsuit has bankrupted him and destroyed his neo-Nazi Traditonalist Worker Party (TWP). TWP was one of the main organizers of the Unite the Right violence.
These impacts are all separate and on top of the major financial judgments our plaintiffs expect to win at trial this year — making clear that there will be very real financial and legal consequences for participating in these racist, violent conspiracies.