Updated 6:15 p.m. EST:
On Monday, Gavin McInnes, founder and former leader of the Proud Boys, filed a lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for defamation, invasion of privacy, costing him valuable business partnerships, and aiding and abetting employment discrimination against him in violation of New York law. Ahead of a scheduled press conference on the lawsuit, the website for his lawsuit suffered a DDOS attack.
“Mr. McInnes brings this action against SPLC for defaming him by use of the SPLC Hate Designations, and publishing other false, damaging and defamatory statements about him, as alleged in detail below; for its concerted, obsessive and malicious actions taken to ‘deplatform’ Mr. McInnes; for its tortious interference with his economic opportunities; and for intentionally interfering with his contractual relationships by causing, inter alia, the termination of Mr. McInnes’s employment, an almost complete deplatforming and defunding and subjecting him to employment discrimination based on his lawful non-employment recreational activities,” the lawsuit states.
Ron Coleman, a lawyer who is representing McInnes, broke the news on Twitter.
McInnes v. SPLC. Filed. pic.twitter.com/dzFdlvaREw
— Ron Coleman (@RonColeman) February 4, 2019
McInnes has launched a website for the lawsuit, DefendGavin.com. Supporters can contribute to his effort there. The website was going to stream a press conference at 2 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, but it suffered a DDOS attack and was unable to stream it.
According to the website, about $10,000 of the $250,000 fundraising goal had been raised by about 6 p.m. Monday evening.
Although “Mr. McInnes, an immigrant, is an avowed and vocal opponent of discrimination based on race, religion or sexual preference, and of ideologies and movements espousing extremism, nationalism and white supremacy,” the SPLC “hate group” designation painted him as a defender of such ideologies and caused him grievous harm.
The Proud Boys bylaws clearly prohibit racism. The lawsuit quotes them:
A person that believes in the inherent supremacy of any one race over
another, or who is a member of any organization promoting the supremacy
of any one race over another, may not become or remain a member of this
Fraternity. This includes, but is not limited to, any person who currently
identifies as white nationalist, white supremacist, or alt-right (or any
person who is a member of an organization identifying as such). Similarly,
members of terrorist organizations or cells, including but not limited to
Antifa, are prohibited from membership in the fraternity.
The suit lays out four claims against the SPLC: interference with economic advantage, defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and aiding and abetting employment discrimination against him.
Central to McInnes’s claim is the argument that “although the SPLC Hate Designations are not empirical statements of fact, and are frequently entirely counter-factual, the SPLC Hate Designations are nonetheless intended by SPLC and treated by the mainstream press, law enforcement, courts and social media organizations not as SPLC’s opinion but rather as objective, empirical factual determinations.”
The SPLC’s campaign against McInnes got him fired from BlazeTV in December 2018, cost him contracts with BlazeTV and other platforms, and got him deplatformed from Facebook and YouTube, after the SPLC launched its “Change the Terms” campaign explicitly attacking McInnes.
The SPLC’s stated use of such “hate group” designations to “completely destroy” organizations across the political spectrum — including mainstream conservative and Christian groups — makes the group extremely vulnerable to defamation lawsuits.
Last week, the SPLC hired a high-powered defamation lawyer to defend the group against a lawsuit aiming to strip it of its tax-exempt status. The SPLC takes these lawsuits seriously, as well it should.
This is a breaking story. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.