With a blockbuster lawsuit, Robbie Kaplan and Karen Dunn won’t just force the Charlottesville organizers out into the open. Extremism in America is headed to trial. The threats are like a bad faucet, a ceaseless stream of invective and hatred. The pitter-patter is so constant that Robbie Kaplan has learned to tune it out: white noise. Still, some pronouncements land harder than others. The ones that promise violence. The ones that mention her son. The ones that are too detailed, filled in with gruesome specifics. And the ones that leave just enough to the imagination, like: “After this stupid kike whore loses this fraudulent lawsuit, we’re going to have a lot of fucking fun with her.” It was mid-June, and months since Kaplan and her cocounsel Karen Dunn had filed a lawsuit against the white supremacists who’d swarmed Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. In that time Kaplan, who is Jewish, has grown accustomed to her neo-Nazi menaces. But even so, for her, this crossed a line. For one, the threat had been shared on Telegram, a messaging platform popular with the alt-right. And second, the person who posted it was none other than Christopher Cantwell, a famed internet white nationalist with a violent criminal record who also happens to be a defendant in Sines v. Kessler, Kaplan and Dunn’s suit. (Other defendants include Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach, and groups like Identity Evropa and the League of the South.) The incident spurred Kaplan and Dunn to pursue sanctions against Cantwell, asking that the court order him to stop harassing not just Kaplan but the plaintiffs as well. The motion is still pending. In the meantime it’s at least cost Cantwell his representation. In a court filing, his now former attorneys said they were at a “loss” over how to counter Kaplan’s claims. When I meet Kaplan for the first time and ask about the threats, she almost smiles. She gets it, how much these men despise her. She’s a woman who happens to be both a lesbian and Jewish. Since the 2016 presidential election, she has worn a small star of David around her neck—a personal reminder to keep up the fight against hate in all its nefarious forms. When it became clear soon after that weekend in Charlottesville that there were survivors who wanted to seek justice in court, Kaplan decided to pursue the case. (It is now backed with support from Integrity First for America, an organization founded in 2017 that seeks to support public interest litigation. Amy Spitalnick, who was formerly the communications director to New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, is IFA’s executive director.) Her and Dunn’s approach is unique, but the case doesn’t stand alone. There has been at least one trial in connection to Charlottesville; in June the man who plowed his car into a group of counterprotestors and killed Heather Heyer was sentenced to life in prison. But the case that Kaplan and Dunn will argue has different aims. With it, IFA doesn’t just take a group of men to court. It puts the alt-right on trial.
Two Years After #Charlottesville, These Women Are Taking the Alt-Right to Court
Bookmark the permalink.