After the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on August 12th, 2017, the Alt Right has been hit hard by organizers, community members, and, now, lawyers. There have been lawsuits filed against high profile members of the Alt Right who were connected to the rally, such as Mike Enoch (Peinovich) of the Daily Shoah, Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute, David Duke, and others.
Well known corporate attorney Roberta Kaplan took up the case against the Alt Right and filed the lawsuit in November of last year. The twenty-five defendants range from individuals like Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler to organizations like the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, all of which were active in the rally and its violence. On May 24th a hearing was held on motions filed by some of the defendants, including Richard Spencer and Mike Enoch, to have the lawsuit dismissed saying that none of the violence on August 11-12th was pre-planned. This runs against evidence from places like leaked Discord servers that appeared to have discussions of violence, or the general communication from the white nationalists involved. These lawsuits are additional to the criminal charges against people like Christopher Cantwell (who is also being named in the lawsuit) and KKK member Richard Wilson Preston, who allegedly discharged a firearm into a crowd of protesters.
Richard Spencer has been trying to find appropriate legal council, especially after his former attorney, Kyle Bristow, decided to leave the white nationalist movement after pressure from activists. Spencer did a public plea asking for $25,000 in donations, the base fee his new attorney requires to defend him, but only has successfully brought in just over $20,000 by the morning of May 24th, though Spencer alleges he met his goal when crytpocurreny was included. On May 23rd, Charlottesville-based attorney John DiNucci filed court documents for Spencer, answering the question about whether or not Spencer would have to defend himself in court.
U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon started hearing arguments at 10:30am on Thursday. Ohio-based attorney Jim Kolenich presented the arguments representing the majority of defendants, arguing that there is no real evidence linking the defendants and the violence of the rally.
These types of lawsuits have been successful in the past. The SPLC has taken down organizations like the United Klans of America, White Aryan Resistance, and the Aryan Nations by holding those organizations financially accountable for the violence their members carry out, noting that they have stoked that violent behavior. It is important to note, however, that lawsuits are not a sufficient response, and instead organizing is critical if the Alt Right is to ever really be shut down.
The final decision by the federal judge about whether or not the lawsuit will go forward will be made within the next month.