Jewish woman tells court how followers of a neo-Nazi targeted her

Posted Friday, 12 July 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)She'd endured the hate from strangers for years, trying to ignore it, trying to move on. But in court Thursday, she had to relive it again. The voicemail that was just gunshots. The emails wishing her dead. The photo of her young son on the gates of Auschwitz.She felt a part of her was broken forever. But as she spoke out against the neo-Nazi she believes responsible for her family's hell, she also knew she was stronger.Tanya Gersh testified for more than an hour in a courtroom in Missoula, Montana, describing in painstaking detail what happened after Andrew Anglin published her name and contact details on the Daily Stormer neo-Nazi website. They were listed on a post criticizing her after she became involved in a dispute with the mother of a white nationalist and condemning her for being Jewish.She listened as her therapist described what she was like on days that were a dizzying blur to her. Gersh, 46, a realtor and mother of two, got messages that said: "I hope you die," "Kill yourself," and "We will take pleasure in your pain." One voicemail said: "You are surprisingly easy to find on the Internet. And in real life.""This is something that will forever change me," Gersh told CNN after court. "I'm never going to be the same Tanya again."But she was there, in the courtroom, and he was not. Anglin had said he feared for his safety if he appeared at the hearing as demanded by the judge. "Andrew Anglin already admitted that he didn't show up because he was scared to show up and fight," Gersh said."I feel like him not showing up was an even louder message to his followers that he's not worth following," she added.His absence means he legally forfeits his right to a defense, but it is more than that to Gersh."He absolutely lost this war," she said after the hearing at which Gersh sought a default judgment against Anglin, deeming him liable for using his website to encourage readers to contact her. The lawsuit, filed by Gersh in April 2017 with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, sued Anglin for "invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of Montana's Anti-Intimidation Act."Anglin and his lawyer, who no longer represents him, earlier claimed Anglin was no longer a US citizen and that his words were protected by the First Amendment. Free speech or hate speechUS Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch will rule later on the case.Gersh hopes it will be a warning to online trolls: You are not immune from the law."Just because they didn't show up at my house and burn a cross, their actions and their words can still destroy lives," she said. "Just because it was behind a computer doesn't mean that they can feel free to terrorize."She rejects any suggestion that people had the right to say those things to her under the First Amendment."I was told that I was going to be forced to the brink of suicide. I was told that they were gonna come and get me. I was told that I should have burned in the oven with the rest of my people during the Holocaust and I had phone calls with nothing but gunshots," Gersh recounted. "I'm sorry, but nothing about that screams free speech."She hopes her story could even impact America's online conversations and comments, whether there are direct threats or not. "It's really important for our country to stop and think really hard about the words that are coming from your brain to your fingertips, before you hit send," she said."The truth is that Andrew Anglin did break a piece of me, and that's a really hard thing to admit to him and to his haters. But, by golly, I can make sure or try really hard to make sure it doesn't happen to anybody else moving forward." Financial claimsGersh's lawyers contend she will have $1.3 million in current and future losses due to the troll storm that impacted her real estate business and her ability to work.Gersh's lawyer, David Dinielli, said Gersh painted in her testimony "a powerful picture of true-life effects of the conduct that Andrew Anglin himself didn't have the courage to defend" by refusing to come to court.Anglin recently had a $4.1 million default judgment entered against him in favor of SiriusXM Radio show host Dean Obeidallah for calling him an "ISIS terrorist" and "mastermind" of an attack in England at the Ariana Grande concert. Anglin also faces a possible default judgment in another case involving a troll storm against the first female black student government president at American University. Anglin's location is not currently known. He did not respond to CNN e-mail requests for comment about these cases or to provide a statement in general. He can only be forced to pay the settlements if he is found in the US."Andrew Anglin may think he has the luxury of remaining outside the United States for the rest of his life and if he does, then the United States will be a better place for it," Dinielli said."But there are many people sitting behind their keyboards whose hearts are equally filled with hate who are here in the United States. And our hope is that regardless of how much we collect, all of those people will know how much a federal court said it's going cost if you do this to someone."

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Turns out even the children of celebrities can be broke.Kelly Ripa appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and talked about about how her son, Michael Consuelos, is living on his own in Brooklyn.It seems the 22-year-old, who attended New York University,...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Most US spy hunters work their entire careers tracking down undercover agents without ever personally playing a direct role in the physical arrest of a spy. Robert David Booth, however, is the rare exception. The retired State Department deputy...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The tweet, as his supporters have always proclaimed, spoke for itself: "All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!"With that, President Donald Trump compared the impeachment inquiry -- a...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Michael D'Antonio is the author of the book "Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success" and co-author with Peter Eisner of "The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence." The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author....

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)People with higher levels of trans fats in their blood may be 50% to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or dementia from any cause, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology."This study demonstrates that there ...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)Walmart, Target and Best Buy this week rolled out plans to woo shoppers during the holidays, focusing on early deals, speedier deliveries and beefed-up service in stores.Retailers are beginning sales early this year because there...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)As of Wednesday morning, Katie Couric didn't know who Noah Centineo was. When Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos dropped the name on stage -- calling the actor "one of the biggest movie stars in the world" -- at Vanity Fair's New...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)The White House is considering Chad Wolf to replace the outgoing acting Homeland Security secretary, according to two sources familiar with the process. Wolf, a senior department official, previously served as chief of staff to former...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)In Chesapeake, Virginia, trick or treating is all about Halloween fun: candy, costumes, and -- if you're over 14 -- a spine-chilling possible $250 fine.According to the City of Chesapeake code of ordinances, anyone over the age of 14 who engages in...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Political Twitter is a wasteland of partisan sniping wholly unreflective of the country as a whole.(That's long been my personal opinion. But now there's lots and lots of data to back that view up. Hooray!)An extensive Pew study of the 22% of...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)This is what a trade war looks like. An industrial giant in Illinois, a motorcycle icon in Wisconsin, a Minnesota snowmobile maker and the parent of Monopoly and Nerf all reported to investors this week that the trade war is...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)A federal judge Wednesday gave the State Department 30 days to release Ukraine-related records, including communications between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.In response to an ...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Joe Lockhart was White House press secretary from 1998-2000 in President Bill Clinton's administration. He co-hosts the podcast "Words Matter." The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN. (CNN)Reports of former Vice...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Rock 'n roll might be a young person's game, but Bruce Springsteen shows no signs of slowing down as he hits his 70th birthday, and indeed has exhibited an appetite to expand his creative horizons. So he follows the Netflix special capturing his...

Posted Wednesday, 23 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)More than 300 light-years from Earth, there's a double star system where evidence exists that two exoplanets, or planets outside of our solar system, recently collided. Astronomers used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to spot ...