WASHINGTON, D.C. – One of the defendants in Dumpson v. Ade has reached a positive settlement agreement with the plaintiff in a case filed by American University’s first female African American student body president, who was harassed and threatened by white supremacists on social media. In addition to other allegations, the suit alleges that Defendant interfered with the plaintiff’s ability to fully enjoy places of public accommodation and interfered with an equal opportunity to participate in her education. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP, along with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiff.
“We are grateful for the courage and determination that our client showed in bringing this lawsuit, and in fighting against racially-motivated bigotry and hate,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We fought hard for this settlement, and believe it is an important model for others who are trying to leave the white supremacist movement. The settlement will support the efforts of community leaders and advocates combating racism and discrimination across the country. This landmark settlement sends a strong message to white supremacists and neo-nazis that they are not above the law and will be held accountable for their dangerous and unlawful activity.”
In March 2017, Plaintiff was elected as American University’s first female African American student body president. Following the election, Plaintiff was the target of hate crimes targeting her on the basis of her race and gender. On her first day in office, nooses were found hanging around the campus with bananas tied to them. Some bananas had “AKA” written on them – referencing Plaintiff’s historically black sorority. Others read “Harambe bait,” referencing a gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo as a racist and threatening comparison to African Americans. Plaintiff was also harassed through Facebook and Twitter. The defendant in this settlement targeted hateful, threatening, and unlawful online activity against the Plaintiff after the initial hate crime, when Andrew Anglin, a known neo-Nazi, posted Plaintiff’s personal information to his website, the Daily Stormer, and directed white supremacist followers to harass her via social media.
In the settlement agreement, among other terms, Defendant has agreed to:
- Issue a sincere apology to Plaintiff with a full understanding of the harm he has inflicted.
- Cooperate with Plaintiff by acknowledging Defendant’s activity in this matter and providing information about his involvement with white supremacy.
- Undergo anti-hate training and counseling for at least one year.
- Complete academic coursework on race and gender issues.
- Do 200 hours of community service related to racial justice or serving a minority community.
- Renounce and publicly advocate against white supremacy, hate, and other forms of bigotry.
- Refrain from ever engaging in hateful activities against Plaintiff or anyone else.
- The Lawyers’ Committee will monitor Defendant’s efforts and compliance with the agreement.
“This is an important settlement that demonstrates that pro bono litigation can positively influence both the parties and the community at large,” said Ragan Naresh, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. “We are proud to have worked with our partners at Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee to achieve this result.”
“The effect of terror created by racist hate filled threats over anonymous social media cannot be overstated. Taylor Dumpson is an extraordinary and courageous woman. We are proud to support her in taking a stand against those who seek to diminish her achievements through fear and intimidation solely because she is a woman of color,” said Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
This case is part of the Lawyers’ Committee’s ongoing efforts to combat the increasing prevalence of hate crimes across the country. In recent years, we have seen how online activity can help mobilize and direct unlawful, hateful activity on and off social media platforms, with a devastating impact on the day-to-day lives. If you or someone you know has been targeted by hate, reach out to the Stop Hate Project for legal resources and other forms of support.
The Stop Hate Project works to strengthen the capacity of community leaders, local government, law enforcement, and organizations around the country to combat hate by connecting these groups with legal and social services resources and creating new ones in response to identified needs. The project’s resource and reporting hotline for hate incidents, 1-844-9-NO-HATE (1-844-966-4283), and website, www.8449nohate.org, connect people and organizations combating hate with the resources and support they need.
The settlement’s case number is: 1:2018cv01011
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights. For more information, please visit https://live-lawyers-committee-2020.pantheonsite.io
Contact: Derrick Robinson, [email protected], 202-662-8317