Court Battles

Lawsuit links online chats to violence in Charlottesville

A new lawsuit is alleging that white nationalists conspired before the violent 2017 Charlottesville, Va., rally-turned-riot that resulted in the death of a young woman.

The 11 plaintiffs of the suit — most of whom were in Charlottesville at the time of the rally — are seeking an injunction that would limit the movement of the white nationalists involved as well as undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages, The Associated Press reports.

According to the filing, organizers and entities, including white supremacists, used more than 40 Discord channels to discuss the logistics of the rally. 

“In many ways, social media has become the Klan den of the 21st century,” Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, told the AP.

Integrity First for America, a nonprofit organization, is funding the case.

During the 2017 August weekend, a neo-Nazi ran his car into a group of counterdemonstrators, killing a civil rights activist and injuring dozens more.

A Discord spokesman told the AP that the company is cooperating and that the online platform has “a zero-tolerance approach to activities that violate our community guidelines and take immediate action when we become aware of it.”

The case’s defendants, which include white nationalist Richard Spencer, claim that they didn’t commit any crime, citing self-defense and the First and Second amendments.

Extremist attacks have alarmingly become commonplace in the past couple of years, with the massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue killing 11 last year and shootings at two mosques in New Zealand killing 51 more people in March.

The trial is expected to take place sometime next year.

Tags charlottesville rally Integrity First for America Virginia

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