A federal judge ordered Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the neo-Nazi site, the Daily Stormer, and one of his followers to pay over $700,000 to Taylor Dumpson, a black student who became the target of a racist ‘troll storm’ while studying at American University. The two were found liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as for interfering with Dumpson’s right to full and equal enjoyment of places of public accommodation.
The harassment began in May 2017, after Dumpson became American University’s first female black student body president. The morning after her inauguration, a masked man hung nooses and bananas inscribed with racist messages near the AU student government offices. The incident drew national attention, including the eye of Andrew Anglin, who instructed his followers to “troll storm” Dumpson after sharing her name, photo, direct links to her Facebook account, and the AU Student Government President Twitter account.
As a result of the harassment, Dumpson said she felt unsafe when walking alone or when leaving her home at night. She dropped a minor in sociology and had difficulty preparing for law school applications. In July 2017, she sought psychiatric help and was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an eating disorder, depression, and anxiety.
On April 20, 2018, Dumpson filed a complaint against Briand Andrew Ade, Andrew Anglin, Moonbase Holdings (Anglin’s company), and James McCarthy for violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977 and intentional infliction of emotional distress. While McCarthy responded to the suit and eventually settled with Dumpson, both Anglin and Ade failed to show up to court summons. Faced with unresponsive defendants, Dumpson filed a motion for a default judgement, which the court granted.
In order to prove that the defendants had intended to cause her emotional distress, Dumpson had to show “(1) extreme and outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant which (2) intentionally or recklessly (3) causes the plaintiff severe emotional distress.” Ultimately, the judge found evidence for all three conditions.
The decision, submitted by Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered Anglin and Ade to pay $600,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, and more than $124,000 in attorney fees. The ruling comes less than a month after the conclusion of another case against the Daily Stormer publisher, in which a federal magistrate judge entered a default judgment against Anglin, saying that he acted with “actual malice” when he instructed his readers to harass a Jewish woman in Montana.