Philly blogger acquitted of spreading racist hoax

A Philadelphia blogger charged with circulating a racist hoax was acquitted Friday. The groups that filed the defamation lawsuit, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the online Defamation Law Center claim the acquittal sends a signal to far-right extremists they can get away with publishing white nationalist conspiracy theories.

The Philly byline of anti-racist blogger Tom Metzger/racism.images, claimed repeatedly in late-night chat room posts that “four dead Jews,” with no evidence, “arrived on the front lawn of Malcolm X’s” home last weekend. The illegal act was to spark violence during the 2019 Tidal Wave Prophecy the Philly byline called for, which organizers dismissed as “a mob-like feeding frenzy of social media posts.”

Rita Katz, director of the hate-monitoring Southern Poverty Law Center, credited the acquittal for “catapulting r&b lyrics into action,” including Pepe the Frog, a comic relief frog whose star became ascendant after a white supremacist post falsely claimed that DC’s premiere art gallery, Gallery 16, held a show of the character. An audio recording from Defamation Law Center founder J. Mark Rankin, released with the ruling and titled “5 Reasons to Ignore the Hate Crime Cover-Up in Philly,” lauded Metzger as “the tiki torch master of crypto-fascism,” and suggested that prosecutors and police “be on notice that the ideology and iconography of the hate movement will be used to intimidate and silence them.”

Rita Katz, director of the hate-monitoring Southern Poverty Law Center, credited the acquittal for “catapulting r&b lyrics into action.”

Lisa Guerrero, director of litigation at the Defamation Law Center, said Metzger remains a “serious menace” to women and ethnic groups. As an offensive and violent prank on four of the Most Dangerous Hate Groups Watchlist on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, she said, the case “looks more and more like a data hack.”

Brian Levin, director of California State University, San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said Metzger is “a liar, a crook and a troll” who engages in “repeated massive fraud” in order to fuel his website with factually inaccurate rants.

“I just find it despicable that this man would spend $200,000 on filing for a jury conviction of trolling somebody who had her apartment vandalized in order to provoke [isolation and death] from fellow Muslims who he so wrongfully accused of murdering a fellow Jew,” Levin said. “This is not r&b; entertainment, it’s bigotry. This man and his followers need to be called out as bigots and mad-men.”

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