Montana Public Radio

Whitefish Woman Testifies In Neo-Nazi 'Troll Storm' Lawsuit

Jul 11, 2019

An emotional Tanya Gersh testified for more than an hour in federal court in Missoula Thursday in her lawsuit against neo-Nazi website publisher Andrew Anglin.

Gersh is the Whitefish realtor who was targeted by Anglin, who told readers of his website, The Daily Stormer, to unleash a “troll storm” against her, her family and the small local Jewish community.

It came after Gersh had a conversation with the mother of white supremicist leader Richard Spencer, who lives in Whitefish. Gersh, her husband and 12-year-old son received hundreds of threatening phone calls, texts, emails and social media messages — including a voicemail that was just the sound of gunshots.

Gersh recounted that at a press conference after Thursday’s hearing.

"I was frightened to the point that we couldn’t think straight. We talked about waking our children in the middle of the night — to run from Nazis."

Gersh’s husband Judah Gersh testified that the family did flee town in fear the weekend in 2017 that Anglin encouraged a “troll army” to hold an armed march in Whitefish. The march never happened.

Lawyers for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing the Gersh family, asked Judge Jeremiah Lynch for a total of $4.7 million in damages for lost income and past and future pain and suffering. Tanya Gersh’s counselor testified that Gersh still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her attorney also asked the judge for punitive damages against Anglin at the judge’s discretion.

At the press conference, Tanya Gersh said the harassment changed her as a person, but she’s determined to get back to the positive, happy person she used to be.

"I refuse to let these haters define the rest of my life," she said.

About 15 people attended the hearing. As expected, Anglin did not appear in court. That means a judgement by default will be entered against him in this civil suit. Anglin has previously said he is outside the United States and cannot return for fear of his personal safety.

Judge Jeremiah Lynch did not indicate when he will issue a ruling. Late in the hearing he called the events Gersh described as an “atrocity.”