Ali Zablocki '19
Elizabeth Sines '19 counter-protested the white supremacist rallies of August 11 and 12, 2017. She is currently suing the organizers of the Unite the Right rally in what is reported to be “the most notable—and comprehensive—lawsuit filed against white supremacists in years.”
Law Weekly Articles Editor Ali Zablocki '19 interviewed Sines about this groundbreaking lawsuit.
AZ: Let's start with the basics. Who exactly are you suing?
ES: I am one of several Charlottesville residents suing over two dozen white supremacists and affiliated groups. The most well-known defendants are probably Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, and the KKK.
AZ: Who are you represented by?
ES: We are represented by lawyers from two firms: Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. Roberta Kaplan and Karen Dunn are two of the lead attorneys. Karen is a former advisor to Hillary Clinton and served as associate counsel to Barack Obama. She was also a federal prosecutor. She is now a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner. Robbie is best known for representing Edie Windsor in United States v. Windsor (which invalidated a section of the Defense of Marriage Act and required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages). She is also an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School. They both are absolutely incredible. Integrity First for America is providing financial support for the suit.
AZ: What are the claims?
ES: The main claim is civil conspiracy. We argue that defendants conspired to commit violence in Charlottesville, in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. In online discussions and posts, on websites like Discord and The Daily Stormer, to name a few, the rally’s organizers encouraged violence and planned how violence would be enacted.
AZ: Why did you decide to become a plaintiff in this lawsuit?
ES: I never want anything like this to happen again. No one should have to go through what the residents of Charlottesville have gone through this past year. I joined the lawsuit because black lives matter, because antisemitism is on the rise around the world and cannot be left unchecked, and because white supremacy is a disease. White supremacy will not go away by itself. And the fight against white supremacy must be waged everywhere—in our homes, in the voting booth, in our schools, the streets, and in the courts. Everywhere. The recent anniversary Unite the Right Rally that happened in DC? Lasted less than an hour and only thirty Nazis showed up. Because last year, activists relentlessly identified them, and so many Nazis lost their jobs, or were kicked out of schools, or were sued for brutalizing innocent people, particularly young black men, like DeAndre Harris.
AZ: What is the status of the suit?
ES: The defendants’ motion to dismiss was just denied by Judge Moon of the Western District of Virginia. We are expected to go to trial in July 2019.