In this week’s roundup: The white supremacist leader is accused of physically assaulting his wife, the Border Patrol appears in a film alongside the Proud Boys and some advice to tech companies about handling online hate.
Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the alt-right movement, has been accused by his wife of physically and mentally abusing her and the couple’s children, according to documents filed in divorce proceedings.
BuzzFeed News has the scoop:
Nina Koupriianova, who married Spencer in August 2010 and has two young children with him, alleges that Spencer physically abused her, including instances where she was “being hit, being grabbed, being dragged around by her hair, being held down in a manner causing bruising, and being prevented from calling for help.”
Koupriianova filed for divorce in Spencer’s home state of Montana. She and Spencer attempted to have the proceedings sealed, but a judge refused, BuzzFeed reported. Koupriianova’s affidavit contains several accusations of abuse by Spencer, including that he kept a loaded gun in the couple’s bedroom that could be accessed easily by one of their young children.
Koupriianova also included text messages and photos of her alleged injuries in the court documents. And she alleges that Spencer has had financial problems of late, The Guardian reports:
During their marriage, the white nationalist leader sometimes told her to use her own savings to pay for groceries, saying that his money was “for the cause,” she alleged. He also regularly failed to pay water, internet, electricity and cell phone bills and failed to make healthcare payments, causing their health insurance to lapse three times, including once shortly before the birth of their second child.
Spencer, for his part, denied the allegations in his own affidavit to the court.
“I dispute many of her assertions,” BuzzFeed reported Spencer saying in court filings, adding that he “denies each, every, and all allegations.”
Spencer also took to Twitter on Wednesday to defend himself, saying his estranged wife has “engaged in a combination of cherry-picking, inflating or distorting of facts, and, in some cases, gross mis-characterizations of me.” Spencer claimed that his wife has continued to support him and that she pleaded to keep the marriage together as recently as August.
The Anti-Defamation League examined the connections between the alt-right and misogyny and violence against women in a report earlier this year. Citing several examples of alt-right personalities who denigrate women while also preaching anti-Semitism and racism, the researchers concluded:
There is a robust symbiosis between misogyny and white supremacy; the two ideologies are powerfully intertwined. While not all misogynists are racists, and not every white supremacist is a misogynist, a deep-seated loathing of women acts as a connective tissue between many white supremacists, especially those in the alt right.
In March, Matthew Heimbach, leader of the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party and a close ally of Spencer’s, was arrested on domestic abuse charges.
Earlier this month, Spencer was in the news for legal filings in a different case – a lawsuit brought against him and others after the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.
In documents filed in Spencer’s defense, the white supremacist leader ridiculed the planner of the Charlottesville rally, Jason Kessler, for failing to throw up the Nazi salute.
“I was right to see his (Kessler’s) lack of sieg healing (sic) as a sign,” he wrote in a text message, referring to the salute used by Hitler’s Third Reich.
Border Patrol union endorses alt-right documentary
The National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents American Border Patrol agents, has endorsed and screened a documentary directed by an alt-right provocateur that features racist tropes and appearances by white nationalists, The Intercept reported this week.
The nearly hour-and-half-long video refers to Democrats as “dark and evil” and features a bevy of American and European far-right, anti-Muslim white nationalists who make a correlation between gang rapes, Islam, and immigration. The documentary also features members of the Proud Boys, a hate group designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, that often aligns with white nationalists and are known for being misogynists and anti-Muslim.
The union already has screened the movie once, at a private event in San Diego, and plans to take it on a national tour, The Intercept reports.
Terence Shigg, president of the union’s San Diego chapter, told The Intercept that Border Patrol agents were “tired of being called ‘Nazis’ or ‘jack-booted thugs.’ ” Shigg praised the film’s director, Danish immigrant Michael Hansen, for letting Border Patrol agents speak freely.
“That’s not something we generally get in the media,” he said
Several members of the Proud Boys were arrested earlier this month after brawling with opponents in New York. Accompanying the polo-shirt-wearing white nationalists were other skinhead groups. And some of the Proud Boys have their own ties to neo-Nazis, as the Southern Poverty Law Center reports:
Among them is 41-year-old Irvin Antillon of Queens, New York, who is a member of the primarily Latino ultranationalist skinhead crew B49, or “Batallon (Battalion) 49.” Antillon also attended the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville as a member of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, which has been called the “tactical defense arm” of the Proud Boys.
Civil rights groups: Here’s how to respond responsibly to online hate
On Thursday, a coalition of civil rights groups released a report urging companies that run social media platforms to adopt policies to impair the ability of hate to flourish online.
The organizations suggest specific policy recommendations, including:
- Companies should make dealing with hate on their platforms a stated priority for senior corporate leadership and their boards of directors.
- Companies should set up robust moderation regimes to investigate and censor hateful activities reported by other users. The users making these reports should receive transparent information about what actions platforms have taken as a result of their reports and the reasoning behind why those actions were taken.
- Companies should not give governments the ability to influence these flagging tools, because that has the potential to chill legitimate political speech that runs counter to a government’s interests.
- Platforms should take comprehensive steps to address coordinated “troll” campaigns, which frequently spread hate, undertaken by both governments and organized non-state actors.
The report – produced by the Center for American Progress, Color of Change, Free Press, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Southern Poverty Law Center – says white supremacists and other hate groups have used these platforms to fund and promote their bigotry and directly attack vulnerable communities.
“This chills the online speech of targeted groups, curbs democratic participations, and threatens people’s safety and freedom in real life,” the report reads.
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