Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Patriot Front Leader Defaults in Lawsuit

'There is no allegation in the Complaint that any defendant threatened or menaced either plaintiff, nor that the plaintiffs suffered any physical harm in any way...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Last October, two anonymous plaintiffs sued members of the right-wing nationalist group Patriot Front, including its founder Thomas Rousseau, for allegedly vandalizing a mural honoring black tennis star Arthur Ashe.

Five of the Patriot Front members filed a motion last week to dismiss the lawsuit. However, Rousseau was not a party to that motion to dismiss.

The Patriot Front founder has apparently not responded to the lawsuit, leading to a district judge entering a default against him last week—meaning that Rousseau is now barred from defending himself.

The judge also entered a default against Patriot Front as an organization, as well as member William Ring. There are 23 other Patriot Front defendants who have yet to be identified and are referred to as “John Does 1-23.”

It’s not clear why Rousseau—who is set to stand trial in Idaho on Sept. 22 for allegedly planning a riot at a pride event last year—is not a part of the motion to dismiss. Attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

An attorney for the Patriot Front defendants who filed the motion to dismiss—Nathan Noyce, Thomas Dail, Paul Gancarz, Daniel Turetchi and Aedan Tredinnick—declined to comment.

“I have no connection with Patriot Front.  I am merely local counsel for several young men who are facing a wholly improper lawsuit,” said the Virginia-based attorney, Brad Marrs.

The Patriot Front lawsuit stems from the fall of 2021, around the time of a civil trial over the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. According to the lawsuit, Patriot Front members defaced the Ashe mural less than two weeks before the trial was set to begin.

“The vandalization of the mural was not a spur of the moment decision, but rather was carefully planned,” the October 2022 lawsuit claimed.

“The mural, which had taken months of planning and work to create, was effectively ruined and the Black man it celebrated erased.”

The lawsuit claimed that the Patriot Front’s actions caused the plaintiffs “feelings of hurt, fear, and anxiety.”

“After seeing the spray-painted Patriot Front logos, Plaintiff Doe 1 immediately felt a sense of fear and apprehension at being in the Park,” the lawsuit said.

“In light of the upcoming Charlottesville trial, Plaintiff Doe 1 interpreted the vandalism as a warning from the Patriot Front that Black residents of the neighborhood and those who opposed white supremacy were not safe.”

But in their motion to dismiss last week, the defending Patriot Front members said the lawsuit is baseless.

“Here, we are not faced with a claim brought by the owner of the defaced mural (the City of Richmond), nor with a criminal prosecution,” the motion to dismiss said.

“The Complaint asks this Court to expand the consequences of this regrettable incident by metastasizing the number of potential plaintiffs by treating an isolated act of vandalism as a violation of the civil rights of virtually any persons claiming to have taken offense.”

Elsewhere in the motion, the Patriot Front members further noted that “there is no allegation in the Complaint that any defendant threatened or menaced either plaintiff, nor that the plaintiffs suffered any physical harm in any way.”

“To the contrary, the injuries relied upon may be fairly characterized as the plaintiffs’ subjective, emotional responses to a public event – one they do not even claim to have witnessed in person,” they said.

The defendants further criticized the plaintiffs for withholding their identities.

“It would, in fact, be impossible for Defendants to investigate the veracity of plaintiffs’ allegations of their suffering without knowing who plaintiffs are and indeed gaining full discovery as to any and all injuries claimed,” they said.

The plaintiffs have yet to respond to the motion to dismiss.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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