The former president of American University’s student government has sued the founder of a well-known neo-Nazi website, alleging that he told his followers to harass the student leader on social media, a campaign that left her fearful and panicked.
In a federal lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, American student Taylor Dumpson claims that Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer, posted an article about her and a racially charged incident that had occurred on the university’s campus last year.
Anglin encouraged his followers to “troll storm” Dumpson, the first black woman to serve as AU’s student government president, the complaint states. He included her name, picture and links to her Facebook page and the Twitter page of American University’s student government, and Dumpson was harassed online with a barrage of racist and hateful messages.
“As Defendant Anglin intended, a troll storm ensued. . . . Instead of celebrating her achievement as American University’s first African American female student government president, Ms. Dumpson found herself fearing for her safety as intimidating comments poured in,” the lawsuit states.
An email sent to Anglin was not immediately returned Wednesday. The lawsuit names two other defendants, who Dumpson claims “took to social media to target, intimidate, threaten, and harass” her. The two other defendants sent offensive tweets in the aftermath of the campus incident, the lawsuit alleges. The two other defendants could not be immediately located for comment.
The lawsuit was filed about a year after the May 2017 incident at American University, when bananas were found hanging from string “in the shape of nooses” at three locations at the school. The fruit had been marked with the letters “AKA,” the acronym for Alpha Kappa Alpha, a sorority whose membership is predominantly African American.
The school described the matter as a “racist incident.” No arrests have been made in the case, a university spokesman said Wednesday.
“All credible leads have been exhausted and no suspect has been identified to date,” Mark Story, an American University spokesman, said in an email. “If someone comes forward with additional information, it will be investigated.”
The fruit was found on Dumpson’s first full day in office, and the incident thrust the student leader into the spotlight.
Anglin’s article and the subsequent online harassment led Dumpson to suffer emotional distress, the lawsuit states. She is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, and is “constantly scared of being harassed and stalked online,” the complaint states.
“Ms. Dumpson feels constantly afraid and on edge. She carries an alarm on her key ring at all times,” the documents state. “She owns three pepper spray canisters for self-defense, which she keeps in different locations for easy access. She carries one with her at all times.”
Dumpson is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, and an injunction that would require defendants in the suit to stop using Dumpson’s name or likeness, and to stop making reference to her in online posts of or social media. She also wants to require the defendants to go through training on sexism and racism.