Landmark Charlottesville Suit is Only Current Effort to Use our Justice System to Take on Vast Infrastructure of the Violent White Nationalist Movement
In a Medium op-ed published before today's House Judiciary hearing, Integrity First for America Executive Director Amy Spitalnick discusses the crisis of violent white nationalism, the federal government's failure to address it, and IFA's suit against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups responsible for the Charlottesville violence. The suit is the only current effort to use our justice system to take on the vast infrastructure of the violent white nationalist movement.
"Our federal government is willfully ignoring this crisis. But we won't," wrote Spitalnick.
Integrity First for America is funding Sines v. Kessler, a landmark lawsuit against the two dozen white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and hate groups that planned and led the violence in Charlottesville. The plaintiffs are 10 Charlottesville community members injured in the violence. The defendants are a who’s who of the leaders of the extremist white nationalist movement: Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, Chris Cantwell, Matthew Heimbach, Vanguard America, Identity Evropa, and more.
The full op-ed can be found here and below:
Charleston. Charlottesville. Pittsburgh.
Violent white nationalist attacks are on the rise. According to the ADL, there were more extremist murders in 2018 than any year since 1995.
And these attacks aren't happening in a vacuum -- they're part of a comprehensive crisis that has grown unchecked for years.
One only needs to look to Charlottesville to understand.
In August 2017, hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, ultimately killing Heather Heyer and injuring countless others.
This violence wasn’t spontaneous. It was meticulously planned for months in advance online, where the defendants discussed plowing down protesters with cars -- precisely what they did.
And while Charlottesville was a flashpoint, it wasn’t an isolated incident. It's part of an interconnected web of violent white nationalism that has claimed lives in communities across the United States and around the globe.
In fact, the Pittsburgh shooter communicated with some of the Charlottesville leaders on Gab in the weeks leading up to his October 2018 attack. And the hate symbol left at the scene of the Highlander Center fire in Tennessee the other week was popularized by Charlottesville leader Matthew Heimbach and used by the Christchurch shooter.
These modern day Nazis are finding and emboldening each other online -- and then murdering people on our streets and in our houses of worship.
Yet, instead of confronting this threat head on, the Trump administration is gutting the limited infrastructure it has to address it. The Department of Homeland Security has disbanded its domestic terror intelligence unit and Department of Justice civil rights investigations are down 60% over the last few years.
Our federal government is willfully ignoring this crisis. But we won't.
Integrity First for America is funding a landmark lawsuit against the two dozen white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and hate groups responsible for the violence in Charlottesville. Our plaintiffs are 10 Charlottesville community members injured in the violence. The defendants are a who’s who of the leaders of the extremist white nationalist movement: Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, Chris Cantwell, Matthew Heimbach, Vanguard America, Identity Evropa, and many more.
We’re suing under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 (a statute that protects against racially-motivated violence) and other civil rights laws, seeking extensive damages and relief.
And we’re winning: the court has rejected the defendants’ various attempts to block the suit. Trial is expected within a year.
While our suit is about holding these Nazis and white supremacists responsible for their actions, it’s also the only current effort to use our justice system to take on the vast infrastructure of the violent white nationalist movement.
It has the potential to uncover who's funding this infrastructure — and bankrupt it. And it sends a clear message: this conduct has no place here.
In the absence of federal leadership, it’s left to private plaintiffs like ours to fight back against the infrastructure that's fueling the rise of violent extremism.
Make no mistake: this is a crisis that is undermining our national security and the basic civil rights that are at the core of our democracy.
If the federal government won't act, we will.
Learn more about IFA's work to #SueANazi and join us in fighting back at www.integrityfirstforamerica.org.