I live for this shit, I swear to God. I have written on multiple previous occasions about individuals who were the victims of Klan or neo-Nazi violence and threats, and even physical abuse, and then turned around and eschewed the criminal system to instead sue the bastards in federal civil rights violations. And won. Bigly.
And over the last 20 years, starting with the southern Poverty Law Center, it has been by far and away the most effective hammer for defeating hate. One of the happiest moments of my life was watching a feed from a local Oregon station on MSNBC as movers went in and out of an Oregon Klan chapter office, carrying desks, computers, phones and chairs, all to be auctioned off to pay the civil fine for a hate crime judgement against the chapter that owned the office.
And not just the organizations. In the Oregon case, the local Grand Wizard of Stupid not only had to sell his own house, but he had to sell a property his grandmother had left him to pony up some of his own civil penalties. The latest example is the recently concluded Charlottesville, Virginia verdict, wherein a jury bankrupted a whole rogues gallery of individuals and far right organizations for the 2017 Charlottesville riot.
And now, The Washington DC District Attorney’s office announced they are filing a civil suit against the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers for the insane amount of damage they caused during the January 6th insurrection. They are seeking both civil restitution damages as well as punitive damages against not only the organizations involved, but high ranking individuals who participated in the riot.
This is how you do it!!! These organizations cannot exist, recruit, and grow, without money! They need money for offices, recruiting, and maintenance, as well as a website to spread their filth. And when they cross the line into overt violence and intimidation, they open themselves up. And if Washington DC prevails in their case, the compensatory and punitive damages will pretty much bankrupt two of the largest far right anti democratic movements in the country.
This is the salvation of democracy. The FBI can’t effectively monitor and combat these groups due to First Amendment rights. But when they step out of line, federal civil courts can bankrupt them in a heartbeat. Well done, Washington DC, well done.
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