White Supremacist Website Posts Call to ‘Take Action’ in Whitefish

Members of Jewish community receive barrage of harassing messages in response

By Tristan Scott
A Love Lives Here sign, pictured outside the Flathead County Justice Center on Nov. 9, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Less than two weeks after the Whitefish City Council repudiated the racist ideology of the so-called ‘alt-right’ in an official proclamation by the mayor, a white supremacist website has posted a call to “take action” against the community’s Jewish residents, posting personal contact information and slurs in an effort to launch an Internet “troll storm.”

The website, a neo-Nazi platform called The Daily Stormer, singles out Jewish members of the community as well as the human rights organization Love Lives Here, accusing the “vicious, evil race” of trying to sabotage a local real estate venture owned by Sherry Spencer, a Whitefish resident and the mother of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.

The website posted phone numbers, email addresses and Twitter handles of the residents, using anti-Semitic and homophobic language to describe them, alongside a disclaimer that the site opposes violence. It also posted the names and addresses of Whitefish businesses purported to support Love Lives Here.

But not only does the chairman of Love Lives Here deny organizing any pressure or protests against Sherry Spencer’s office building, the Spencer family has gone to great lengths to distance themselves and the building from their son’s career and politics. And while the Spencer family confirmed Dec. 19 they intend to sell the property, they condemned the actions of The Daily Stormer.

According to Love Lives Here, the post has unleashed a torrent of harassment against innocent members of the community, including threats of violence via social media, phone calls and emails.

Holding a manila envelope containing a ream of hate-filled missives, Love Lives Here Chairman Will Randall said the effect of the online post has been “devastating.”

In one email to Love Lives Here’s main email address, a sender threatens to exact justice on “filthy jews” by hanging them from “the nearest lamp post.”

Randall said while the outpouring of hatred has been a sad and scary development, the tide of support and solidarity baskets from around the country has buoyed his spirits.

Rand Spencer, Sherry Spencer’s husband and Richard Spencer’s father, said he and his wife considered The Daily Stormer’s harassment “despicable.”

“I think it is despicable what they have done on that web page and I would denounce entirely all of the anti-Semitic statements and the techniques that have been used to bring them to the fore,” he said. “I think it is terrible, and what they have done to the people of Love Lives Here is totally uncalled for.”

The Whitefish Police Department is aware of the situation, and said while the communication has been slanderous and unsavory, it is mostly coming from Internet accounts on the East Coast, and nothing illegal has occurred locally.

However, Lt. Bridger Kelch said the department is forwarding intercepted online materials and reports to the FBI office out of Salt Lake City.

“This is on our radar,” he said. “There have not been any local threats against personal safety, but we are reviewing anything and everything.”

The genesis of the controversial development centers on Richard Spencer, the director of the National Policy Institute, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a hate group.

Richard Spencer’s aim is to create a white ethno-state and preserve European heritage and identity, and as a leader of the “alt-right” he has recently ridden a wave of national publicity and infamy. News reports frequently cite his part-time residency in Whitefish, and photo-shoots and live television broadcasts have been staged here.

The publicity prompted the Whitefish City Council to renounce Spencer’s racist brand of ideology in a mayoral proclamation firmly declaring that the views of the “alt-right” are “a direct affront to our community’s core values and principles.”

With an ideology that’s a mix of racism, white nationalism and old-fashioned populism, the “alt-right” has burst into the collective consciousness since members showed up at the Republican National Convention to celebrate Trump’s nomination last summer.

Recently, Spencer’s parents voiced concern that the pressure and negative attention that has come to bear on their son has affected Sherry’s business investments in Whitefish, including the multiple-use office building she owns near downtown and now plans to sell.

The Daily Stormer has seized on that development to marshal its forces and target members of Love Lives Here on behalf of the white supremacy movement.

The Daily Stormer article by Andrew Anglin, who the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes as “a prolific Internet troll,” encourages its acolytes to “hit ‘em up” and asks, “Are y’all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm?”

Spencer said he speaks for he and his wife in condemning The Daily Stormer’s online post.

“I could only imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of something like that,” Rand Spencer said. “It is terrible. I have nothing but condemnation for that web page.”