A lawsuit filed by area residents against organizers of the Unite the Right rally continues to grow more complicated as one defendant seeks to avoid sanctions and another appears to continue to make threats against a lawyer in the case.
At a hearing earlier this month, defendant Christopher Cantwell — a neo-Nazi who was banned from Virginia after committing acts of violence on Aug. 11, 2017 — was chastised for his racist and physically threatening comments directed at Roberta Kaplan, an attorney representing the plaintiffs.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs asked the court to enjoin Cantwell to refrain from any future threats, which according to posts from the defendant the court did. However, according to the plaintiffs, Cantwell has continued to verbally bash Kaplan and make threats against her.
“The Jews are terrified of me, because if people hear what I have to say without their cherry picking dishonest nonsense, then there won’t be a safe place on this Earth for so much as a mischling,” Cantwell wrote on his self-titled website after the last court hearing.
“They are terrified of the truth, and of men with the courage to speak it in the face of adversity. If I have to show up at people’s doors to say what I have to say, then to quote Walter White ‘I am the one who knocks!’”
Had Cantwell’s language remained “merely obscene,” the plaintiffs would have ignored it, they said, but instead they argue that he has flouted the court and continued the same behavior with impunity.
“Rather than articulate his purported First Amendment defense in the proper manner and forum — by filing a response to Plaintiffs’ motion — Mr. Cantwell speaks instead to the multitude of nameless, faceless, white supremacists and neoNazi’s that undoubtedly visit his anti-Semitic website,” the plaintiffs wrote in their recent motion.
“He thus betrays his true intentions as no more than an effort to incite his supporters to engage in the same forms of threats and violence that he promises from himself, rather than raise a legitimate legal argument or speak publicly within the proper limits of non-violent speech.”
Matthew Heimbach, a defendant in the case who is now representing himself, filed a request this past week to avoid financial sanctions.
Heimbach is one of several defendants who remained unreachable and did not begin to comply with the court’s discovery requests until recently, when the when the court threatened fines and potential jail time.
Due to complicated familial drama prompted by Heimbach being caught having sex with his wife’s stepmother, he has split from his wife. However, he claims that he still provides for them financially and is his ex-wife and children’s only source of income.
Though he does not cite a source, Heimbach claims Integrity First for America — the group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs — has raised millions of dollars to argue the case.
“On the other side of this, Integrity First for America has raised over ten million dollars to support the lawsuit and pay for legal costs in relation to it,” he wrote. “Any of the wages that could be garnished from Respondent Heimbach would be crippling to his wife, children, and himself, and not even a drop in the bucket to the multi-million dollar war chest that opposing counsel has access to.”
Earlier this month, Heimbach filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming it did not do enough to establish grounds.
More than a year and a half ago, Heimbach was part of a similar motion that was subsequently denied in July 2018. In its opinion denying the motion last year, the court held that the plaintiffs had plausibly alleged that the defendants, including Heimbach, had entered into a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence at the white supremacist rally.
In their response to Heimbach’s second motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs argue, in part, that the motion should again be denied for the same reasons as last time.
“Now, after months of inaction — including ignoring his discovery obligations, flouting the Court’s orders, and repeatedly failing to appear at court conferences — Heimbach has finally reappeared and, now pro se, brings the Second Motion to Dismiss, asserting the same arguments that he and his fellow Defendants already made 18 months ago and on which the Court ruled over a year ago,” the motion reads.
“The law-of-the-case doctrine prohibits a second bite at that apple. The Court should deny Heimbach’s frivolous and vexatious Motion and award Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs for opposing his Second Motion to Dismiss.”
Additionally, Heimbach was among the defendants who agreed to a consent motion that set Jan. 26, 2018, as the deadline to file a motion to dismiss.
The judge has not yet ruled on any of the motions related to Heimbach’s latest motion to dismiss.