Defend Press Freedom Against White Nationalist Legal Attack

For: Gerry Bello
Columbus, OH
Organizer: Gerry Bello
Defend Press Freedom Against White Nationalist Legal Attack (Gerry Bello)
$1,451
of $15,000 goal.
Raised by 28 donors
9% Complete

The Story

I'm a journalist and small time publisher in Columbus OH.  I own the Mockingbird Publishing Company, which publishes books by myself and one day others and our flagship website Mockingbirdpaper.com The Mockingbird intends to grow from a website into an full-fledged alt-weekly. 

In the course of our local reporting, we noticed an dramatic uptick in public activity by local so-called alt-right and neo-nazi groups, including the "Proud Boys".  This activity culminated in a weekend of flyering that included both fliers bearing the Proud Boy logo and hand drawn swastikas crammed through resident's mail slots inside apartment buildings in the same neighborhood at the same time. We covered the story as part of our ongoing focus on police brutality, gentrification and the local and national rise of fascist groups. This is local beat crime and human rights reporting.  You can read that story and linked coverage here.

This new breed of Trump loving white nationalists is not content with press coverage that does not favor them.  One of them, Jason Lee Van Dyke, is a lawyer in Texas and sent us a cease and desist letter.  You can read that here.  The Mockingbird of course will not be censored.  We told him no, we will not be silent. This was done in an open letter.

Jason Lee Van Dyke has now made a choice to not let it go.  He sued over the open letter, not even the original story.  He has brought suit against both the Mockingbird as a corporation and myself personally in County Court in Denton Texas.  

This is a very expensive proposition.  He is demanding "at least $60,000" and possibly up to $100,000.  He has selected a venue where he lives and practices law and where we know not a single soul.  There has been no help from the ACLU.  We have been forced, at great expense, to hire a private attorney in Texas rather than one we have a developed relationship with in Ohio.

To make matters worse, Mr. Van Dyke's legal strategy goes after more than one of the pillars of press freedom.  Through is proposed discovery, he is seeking the identities of our sources for the original story.  Thus people who have had swastikas anonymously crammed into their homes would now have their names exposed to the very  same people who violated their homes with hateful messages in the first place.

Jason Van Dyke himself is no stranger to seeking the names of anyone who points out his ties.  He given a job offer in Victoria Texas as an Assistant District Attorney. This offer was rescinded when more background research on him was done.  He sued, seeking the names of anyone who had mentioned him in interoffice communication.

What would Van Dyke do with the names of my sources?  He would attack them.  He is a man who publicly threatens violence against minorities by his own admission.  He did so on twitter and then admitted it to the press this very week.

This is my first round of fundraising for what is going to be a long and expensive lawsuit.  I stood my ground on this issue both as a publisher and a person with a lifelong commitment to fighting fascism.  I am seeking your help in defending the right of a reporter to protect their sources and the right of a publication to publish the truth as it happens.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on November 18, 2017

Posted on November 18, 2017

I'd like to thank those people who have donated to my legal defense.  Your help has been a leg up, but this will be a long climb.  Take a moment and share this update if you can.  
There are others, who have expressed support for me, or admonished the man who has brought this frivolous suit.  Your expressions of solidarity and amplification on this issue have provided me with great moral and morale support.  Please share this update.  
Since I have announced this effort, the pace of events has accelerated.  
Firstly, my lawyer filed a motion, yesterday, to remove this case to the federal district court.  We have good legal justification for this and it is part of a strategy that my counsel has mapped out and that I approve of.
Secondly, opposing counsel/the plaintiff made what can best be described as utterances against interest.  He has threatened to sue one of my supporters, The Huffington Post (which ran a story on this, and Talib Kweli.  He has threaten launch this suit Monday.  There will be an obvious delay between filing and service.
This is the core of fascism in action as a political movement.  It will use the state where the state is the tool for the job, and it will use violence against society and/or the state if law does not work.
For this I thank you,
Gerry Bello
A not abbreviated version of this is posted on my sight as an editorial. Read it here.


Posted on November 18, 2017

Posted on November 18, 2017

I'd like to thank those people who have donated to my legal defense.  Your help has been a leg up, but this will be a long climb.  Take a moment and share this update if you can.  

There are others, who have expressed support for me, or admonished the man who has brought this frivolous suit.  Your expressions of solidarity and amplification on this issue have provided me with great moral and morale support.  Please share this update.  

Since I have announced this effort, the pace of events has accelerated.  

Firstly, my lawyer filed a motion, yesterday, to remove this case to the federal district court.  We have good legal justification for this and it is part of a strategy that my counsel has mapped out and that I approve of.

Secondly, opposing counsel/the plaintiff made what can best be described as utterances against interest.  He has threatened to sue one of my supporters, The Huffington Post (which ran a story on this, and Talib Kweli.  He has threaten launch this suit Monday.  There will be an obvious delay between filing and service.

This is the core of fascism in action as a political movement.  It will use the state where the state is the tool for the job, and it will use violence against society and/or the state if law does not work.

For this I thank you,

Gerry Bello

A not abbreviated version of this is posted on my sight as an editorial. Read it here.


Posted on November 18, 2017

Posted on November 18, 2017

I'd like to thank those people who have donated to my legal defense.  Your help has been a leg up, but this will be a long climb.  Take a moment and share this update if you can.  

There are others, who have expressed support for me, or admonished the man who has brought this frivolous suit.  Your expressions of solidarity and amplification on this issue have provided me with great moral and morale support.  Please share this update.  

Since I have announced this effort, the pace of events has accelerated.  

Firstly, my lawyer filed a motion, yesterday, to remove this case to the federal district court.  We have good legal justification for this and it is part of a strategy that my counsel has mapped out and that I approve of.

Secondly, opposing counsel/the plaintiff made what can best be described as utterances against interest.  He has threatened to sue one of my supporters, The Huffington Post (which ran a story on this, and Talib Kweli.  He has threaten launch this suit Monday.  There will be an obvious delay between filing and service.

His past threatening statements have been forwarded to the Texas Bar Association and he is no "no longer welcome where he has trained for years" I presume this means the Academy where he studies Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo.  This is unsurprising as Brazil is a very multi-racial society and BJJ gyms have no tolerance for that sort of thing.  Since the Huffington Post article was mentioned I presume this is what got the attention of his school.

In the same message, he stated that he did not care if he was disbarred and that his property was defended with a 50 BMG.  I am not sure if he was the proper paperwork and tax stamp for an actual Browning machine gun or if he is referring to some other weapon chambered in that particular caliber.  There are many on the market that require less paperwork, expense and are not fully automatic.  But either way we are discussing a large weapon with capabilities at extreme ranges.

He referred to his big big gun in a sentence about "sanctions,"  which I expect would mean sanctions imposed by the Texas bar, which could include fines, and forfeiture should those fines not be paid.  Such a forfeiture would be carried out by the local sheriff. 

This is the core of fascism in action as a political movement.  It will use the state where the state is the tool for the job, and it will use violence against society and/or the state if law does not work.

For this I thank you,

Gerry Bello

A not abbreviated version of this is posted on my sight as an editorial. Read it here.

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