C-ville Attendee Sues Far-Right Media Sites For Making Him Conspiracy Target

A vehicle plows into a group of protesters marching along 4th Street NE at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville on the day of the Unite the Right rally on Saturday, August 12, 2017. Photo/Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress
Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress

A witness of the deadly car crash at last year’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia is suing Infowars and other far-right purveyors of “fake news conspiracies” for instigating a targeted harassment campaign against him.

Counter-protester Brennan Gilmore alleges that he was defamed by false stories after sharing a video he’d captured of neo-Nazi James Fields allegedly ramming his car into a crowd, injuring 36 and killing anti-racist activist Heather Heyer. Fields was charged with first-degree murder in December. Georgetown Law School’s Civil Rights Clinic on Tuesday filed the defamation suit in federal court in Virginia on Gilmore’s behalf.

“Defendants thrive by inciting devastating real-world consequences with the lies they publish as ‘news,’” the suit reads. “From ‘Pizzagate’ to the Sandy Hook and Las Vegas shootings, Defendants have subjected innocent people to relentless threats of violence and death, bullying, and online harassment.”

Gilmore’s cameraphone video of the August 2017 attack went viral on Twitter, making him a target of online conspiracies alleging that he was part of a “deep-state” plot to undermine the Trump administration by staging the deadly incident.

Infowars’ Alex Jones and Lee Stranahan; Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft; and former congressman Allen West are among the defendants accused of promoting these bogus stories.

The defendants seized on details of Gilmore’s personal life, including his work as a foreign service officer, to allege that he was a “deep state shill linked to George Soros” and that he had “foreknowledge that this event was going to happen.”

As a result, per the complaint, Gilmore faced death threats, hacking attempts and the publication of his and his parents’ personal information. His career as a diplomat was “compromised,” and he was sent a letter containing suspicious powder.

Gilmore is seeking monetary damages for his “emotional distress” and “reputational, emotional, and professional injuries.”

Georgetown’s civil rights clinic last October sued the organizers of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally and the militia groups that guarded them, pointing to an obscure provision of the Virginia Constitution barring the formation of armed paramilitary groups who intend to commit violence.

Both suits use innovative legal arguments to try to hold the perpetrators and defenders of the chaotic event accountable.

As the latest complaint alleges, Jones and Hoft have smeared victims of tragedies before, most recently pushing reports that the teenage survivors of the mass shooting at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas high school were hired “crisis actors.”

Jones responded to the filing in one of his characteristic rambling first-person videos, alleging that he was targeted for “questioning leftist PR surrounding Charlottesville.”

Other defendants told Reuters that they stood by their comments on Gilmore.

Read the full complaint below.

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