Gavin McInnes, conservative provocateur and talk show host best known as the founder of the far-right fraternal organization known as the Proud Boys, on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for damages after the group designated his work as hate speech.
In a statement released after the filing, McInnes said, “They have harassed me, my family, and my friends to a level of tortious interference that goes well into sabotage.”
McInnes, a Canadian immigrant and comedian, claims he 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.”
In a YouTube statement published November 21, 2018 McInnes formally stepped away from the Proud Boys group and gave an extensive background of their history. The video description includes this statement, “As of today, November 21st, 2018, I am officially disassociating myself from the Proud Boys, in all capacities, forever. I quit.”
In the taped statement, he asserts the mainstream media has repeatedly mischaracterized the purpose of the group as well as the members beliefs. In an interview with AL.Today a spokesman for McInnes described the group saying of members of the Proud Boys, “They share a common world view, they’re pro-western values, but don’t all share the same political beliefs and have never been a hate group.”
McInnes claims the SPLC has given him a “Hate Designation,” a means by which it identifies activists, political figures and groups as targets that disagree with their own ideologies and designates them as “extremists,” “white supremacists,” and “hate groups” in order to “achieve its goals and those of its donors.”
The 70-page complaint was electronically filed early evening Sunday in the Middle District of Alabama outlining defamation and other tortious acts resulting in reputation and economic damages. In the suit, McInnes says the SPLC is “defaming him by use of the SPLC Hate Designations, and publishing other false, damaging and defamatory statements about him.”
McInnes is being represented by noted First Amendment attorney Ron Coleman of Mandelbaum Salsburg P.C. and Baron Coleman of the Baron Coleman Law Firm.
Attorney Ron Coleman emphasized the significance of the case in relation of the growing partisan divide and practice of censorship by stating, “[t]his lawsuit has implications beyond Gavin McInnes because we’re challenging the use of deplatforming and defunding to privately censor speech. If we can’t stop this phenomenon now, the First Amendment will be rendered meaningless as dissent is silenced through private actors such as SPLC and its allies.”
Montgomery-based attorney Baron Coleman noting, “I wasn’t familiar with Gavin or his work prior to beginning work on this case. But there is absolutely zero excuse in America for systematically targeting someone for complete personal and financial destruction because they support a different politician or different set of political beliefs. I wouldn’t represent a racist or an anti-semite. And Gavin is neither. And the most horrific part of this entire ordeal is that the SPLC knows Gavin isn’t a racist or anti-semite or anything else they’ve labeled him. Rather, he supports a different slate of politicians with his satire and wit, and the SPLC would rather destroy him than have him out there convincing other people to see politics his way.”
For those interested in donating to McInnes’s legal defense fund it can be found at defendgavin.com
Read the lawsuit below: