POLITICS
05/03/2018 10:22 am ET Updated May 03, 2018

Former American University Student President Sues Andrew Anglin For Racist 'Troll Storm'

Taylor Dumpson, an African-American, says the neo-Nazi publisher directed his readers to harass her.
Taylor Dumpson, who was targeted by an Andrew Anglin “troll storm.” She resigned as student government president
Taylor Dumpson
Taylor Dumpson, who was targeted by an Andrew Anglin “troll storm.” She resigned as student government president in January.

Andrew Anglin is in legal trouble again. On Monday, American University’s first black woman student president sued the publisher of The Daily Stormer, one of the world’s most prominent neo-Nazi websites, in what is the fourth federal lawsuit ― by our count ― facing Anglin.

Taylor Dumpson, who was targeted by Anglin for a “troll storm” after she was elected as American University’s student government president a year ago, sued the white supremacist in Washington, D.C. She is accusing him of orchestrating an online campaign of racist harassment and intimidation against her.

Dumpson had been in office only one day when a masked man hung bananas with racist epithets written on them from nooses near American University’s student government offices. The incident made national news and prompted a campus police hate crimes investigation that was joined by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI.

Enter Anglin. The neo-Nazi has spent the better part of his adult life transforming himself into one of America’s foremost racist propagandists and cyberharassers; and when he learned about drama at American University, he posted Dumpson’s photo and Facebook page on the Daily Stormer and urged his readers to send her “some words of support.”

Andrew Anglin

Anglin’s trolls knew what he meant. On numerous occasions, he’d used his website ― which serves as an important online gathering place for the angry young members of the “alt-right” white supremacist movement ― to target individuals by publishing personal information. He then whips up his followers and unleashes them to menace whichever unfortunate soul happened to be in his crosshairs. He’d done this to journalists, politicians and private citizens he didn’t like. The result could be traumatizing ― hundreds of ugly, threatening messages over social media, email, the phone. Anglin even provided guides and instructions to help his trolls harass more effectively and cover their tracks online.

His victims were never sure when the hate might spill offline and show up at their doorstep. Anglin routinely preaches violence against minorities, women and other groups; and members of the Daily Stormer community, many of whom have organized themselves into real-world fascist “book clubs” with chapters around the country, have committed numerous murders, including a tragic racially motivated sword killing in New York City last March. Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black people in Charleston, South Carolina, was reportedly a Daily Stormer commenter.

For Dumpson, the troll storm meant several harrowing days of being inundated with racist comments and threats on social media. She feared she would be physically attacked and claims the experience gave her nightmares, depression, anxiety and caused her to lose more than 15 percent of her body weight. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to her complaint.

Producing fear is Anglin’s specialty. The trollmaster, who in an unsuccessful attempt to duck one of the federal lawsuits against him, claims to have absconded from the United States to Cambodia (although there is little evidence to support his self-professed meanderings), menaces from afar. He uses his gullible minions to perform his dirty work, while coating his hate in sarcasm and irony in an attempt to avoid culpability. 

This has made Anglin an elusive defendant. Dumpson’s lawsuit, which was filed by attorneys from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, seeks damages under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977 and the Bias-Related Crime Act of 1989. The latter law covers bias-related incitement or conspiracy to commit stalking. Dumpson, who resigned from her position as student body president in January to focus on her “health and education,” is also suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a common law tort that can be hard to prove.

“This lawsuit sends a strong signal to those who perpetrate hate and promote white supremacy that there are victims who will not cower and who will instead stand up and take action to protect their rights,” the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law president, Kristen Clarke, told The Associated Press.

The case marks at least the fourth time that Anglin has been sued in federal court. Last April, Tanya Gersh, a Jewish real estate agent in Whitefish, Montana, filed a complaint against Anglin for orchestrating a harassment campaign against her and her family. The harassment began after Gersh had a disagreement with the mother of Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist, that caught Anglin’s attention. He sent his trolls after Gersh and her family, who ultimately received more than 700 threatening and harassing communications. Gersh also wound up in trauma therapy.

In August, Dean Obeidallah, a Muslim American comedian and radio host, filed a defamation suit against Anglin, accusing the neo-Nazi of framing Obeidallah as the “mastermind” of a terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in England that killed 23 people.

In October, victims of the white supremacist violence at last summer’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sued the organizers of the rally for forming a conspiracy to commit acts of violence, intimidation and harassment against Charlottesville residents. Anglin is a co-defendant in that case, having turned his site into a logistical staging ground for white supremacists in advance of what Anglin called the alt-right’s “Beer Hall Putsch,” a reference to Adolf Hitler’s failed 1923 coup.

As Anglin finds himself hemmed in by various lawsuits, some readers have turned on him and abandoned his site, which bears increasingly pronounced signs of the tinfoil hat lunacy that has characterized Anglin’s thinking since his teenage years. Reality, however, may soon intrude in a federal courtroom.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story indicated Dumpson was the first black student president of American University. In fact, she is the first black woman elected student president.

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