Charlottesville, VA – Over four years after the deadly Unite The Right neo-nazi rally, the civil rights lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Integrity First For America against the alt-right event organizers on behalf of survivors of the violence is finally going to trial. The historic ‘Sines v. Kessler’ lawsuit seeks damages from individuals and groups behind the violence in Charlottesville for alleged violations of the rarely used 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act.
Some of the most damning evidence aired in beginning of the case came from a recorded video deposition of Samantha Froelich, a former member and organizer with the alt-right neo-nazi group Identity Evropa who provided detailed answers to questions asked by an off-camera interviewer. She testified that she was an “official member of the alt-right” from December 2016 until October 2017 and now “carries a lot of guilt and shame” about her time with Identity Evropa; she now works with the group Life After Hate.
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Additional Resources via Integrity First For America: Trial & Deposition Video Transcripts • Searchable Database of Plaintiff’s Trial Exhibits
Froelich joined Identity Evropa after seeing an interview with the neo-nazi group’s founder Nathan Damigo on the news show The Young Turks in which Damigo’s “calm” and “collected” appearance made her feel that IE “was a group I could get behind.”
(Damigo was the founder and leader of Identity Evropa but before Unite The Right, he stepped down as leader and Froelich’s boyfriend at the time, Elliot Kline [aka ‘Eli Mosley‘], assumed command of the group.)
Froelich became a member of Identity Evropa “the week of Christmas 2016.” She testified that when she joined, Identity Evropa had “maybe 250 to 300” members.
When she applied to join, Froelich was interviewed by a young alt-right acolyte using the alias ‘Reinhard Wolff.’ The Wolff alias is now known to belong to Patrick Casey, who served as Identity Evropa’s leader after Nathan Damigo and Eli Mosley both stepped down. (Casey would later oversee Identity Evropa’s short-lived rebranding as the so-called ‘American Identity Movement’.)
During her Identity Evropa membership interview, Patrick Casey asked Froelich about her “red pill process” of being radicalized into alt-right beliefs as well as her views about the necessity of a whites-only “ethnostate.”
Casey also told Froelich about the chat platform Discord during her interview – Discord was a primary planning tool used by both Identity Evropa and the general organizing effort for Unite The Right.
Samantha Froelich also testified that Casey asked her about her thoughts on the ‘JQ’ – short for the ‘Jewish question’ – a code-phrase signaling anti-semitic beliefs. Froelich told her deposition interviewer that many Identity Evropa members “wanted to exterminate Jewish people.”
“Part of being in Identity Evropa is to be in the mindset that Jewish people are not white, that they are subverting white culture, that they have a stronghold in media, banking, film… and are promoting degeneracy… [and] the extinction of white people.”-Samantha Froelich described Identity Evropa’s antisemitic beliefs in her deposition for the ‘Sines v. Kessler’ lawsuit
Identity Evropa members would often ask each other “did you see Kyle?” as a sneaky way of saying ‘sieg heil’ to each other, Froelich testified. She also said that IE members also saw Black people as “subhuman” and had a “one drop rule” forbidding anyone with any remotely non-white heritage from joining.
Froelich Organizes for Identity Evropa
Serving as the group’s Women’s Coordinator and Membership Coordinator for much of 2017, Froelich interviewed “at least 100” prospective IE members and reviewed “hundreds” of applications. After the so-called “Battle of Berkeley” where Nathan Damigo was seen punching someone in the face, IE saw a rapid increase in applications.
Discord evidence exhibits shown later in the trial highlighted that after Berkeley, Patrick Casey wrote, “Jesus, we’re swamped. Nathan should punch women in the face more often.”
Froelich told the court she was in a romantic relationship with Elliot Kline (aka ‘Eli Mosley‘), the primary organizer of Unite The Right and later the leader of Identity Evropa, from May 2017 to November 2017. Froelich testified that Kline worked for a pest extermination company at the time they were dating and that he would often say that “he wished he killed Jews instead of cockroaches.”
While Identity Evropa presented itself as a “fraternity of men and women of awakened European heritage,” Froelich said the softer “pro-white” message was merely a front for intensely racist, exterminationist views. Froelich said that IE sought a more cultivated and respectable image in order to “recruit young men and women while in college and get them into the alt-right.” Members were instructed to “speak with eloquence” and not use racial slurs while in public in order to “look presentable” in a strategy she likened to “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
During her time in Identity Evropa, Froelich said members often discussed the Turner Diaries, a widely known, apocalyptic neo-nazi fantasy novel which describes a white uprising leading to the extermination of all non-white people on the planet. IE members and leaders such as Kline/Mosley also used a neo-nazi mantra known as the “14 words” as well as the phrase ‘RaHoWa’ (short for ‘racial holy war’). Kline/Mosley “regularly” discussed ‘RaHoWa’ in relation to planning Unite The Right, Froelich testified.
She also testified that in Identity Evropa, the alt-right more broadly, and in planning discussions for Unite The Right, the term “Right Wing Death Squads” was frequently used as a term by “people that worked out a lot or were in the military and had some interest in being ‘security’” and that that term was used specifically to refer to planning for violence in Charlottesville. (Planning call audio leaked by Unicorn Riot also showed that rally organizers made use of the term – and its acronym RWDS commonly was featured in racist memes.)
Richard Spencer and Eli Mosley
A significant portion of Samantha Froelich’s deposition focused on alt-leader Richard Spencer, who is a defendant in the Charlottesville lawsuit along with Elliot Kline and Identity Evropa. Froelich testified that she “carried on a relationship” with Spencer starting in May 2017 and often had discussions with him about “the inner workings of the alt-right.” Plaintiffs’ attorneys repeatedly asked Froelich to describe conversations she remembered where Spencer was present.
Froelich testified that Spencer was present for many instances of Kline speaking about violence towards Jewish and Black people. She described Spencer leading alt-right gatherings in chants of of “hail victory” (the English translation of ‘sieg heil’) while engaging in nazi salutes. Froelich recounted Spencer often referred to Jewish people in derogatory terms such as “dirty, disgusting [and] filthy” She added that Spencer said that Black people only had rights because white people granted them, and that white people should “take back” the supremacy they were once afforded (“by any means necessary” in Spencer’s words.)
In summer 2017, Froelich attended planning meetings for Unite The Right at Spencer’s apartment at the time in Alexandria, Virginia, where there were “talks about what weapons could be used” at the rally as well as “what people should say, what people should bring.”
She also testified that Charlottesville planning meetings at Spencer’s home included discussing whether or not it would be legal to drive cars into counter-protesters who were marching in the street. Froelich did not attend Unite The Right, and said she became increasingly concerned about the prospect of serious violence at the event.
Froelich described how Spencer relished his role as the figurehead of the alt-right:
“He told me that this was the closest to being L. Ron Hubbard and creating his own religion that he was gonna get…he bragged about the fact that people saw him as a god… that young people worshiped him…women wanted him…he was very interested in remaining the head, the voice, the face… of the alt-right.”-Samantha Froelich testifying about Richard Spencer in her deposition for the ‘Sines v. Kessler’ lawsuit
Eli Mosley discussing making Identity Evropa “a militia for Richard Spencer” and said “he was willing to make an army for Richard,” according to Froelich in her deposition. Froelich also said that while Kline had large designs for acting on Spencer’s behalf, he also said that he wanted to eventually “kill Richard and take over all of it.”
Identity Evropa After Charlottesville
Unite The Right was considered a public relations debacle among the more PR-savvy elements of the alt-right. By the time Samantha Froelich left Identity Evropa in October 2017, the group was adopting a more cautious and restrained approach, forbidding its members from any public events that were not strictly managed by IE leadership.
Extensive leaked materials Unicorn Riot obtained from inside Identity Evropa cover this post-Unite The Right time period when the group worked harder to conceal its hardcore neo-nazism and tried to cultivate a gentler reputation.
Rules posted in Identity Evropa’s Discord chat in 2018 ostensibly forbid members from advocating “illegal activity” or discussing “extremism,” “ethnic chauvinism,“ or using “vulgar language.“ These changes took place as Patrick Casey (aka Reinhard Wolff) took over as IE’s official leader after Kline stepped down after Unite The Right.
In March 2019, Unicorn Riot published chat logs from ‘Nice Respectable People Group‘, the primary Discord chat server Identity Evropa used to organize, as well as contents of a Slack workspace used by IE. The leaks showed how IE members in private still relished racism and antisemitism. They also celebrated acts of violence including James Fields’ car attack.
The leaks led to formerly anonymous members of Identity Evropa being exposed in jobs such as schoolteachers, police, GOP volunteers, and service members in the U.S. military. The Discord logs obtained by Unicorn Riot show that 899 Discord usernames were in the chat – meaning the group likely had around that many members at its height.
After the leaks, IE’s leader Patrick Casey announced that Identity Evropa had dissolved and that he was now leading a new group known as the American Identity Movement. Despite Casey’s claims, Identity Evropa had effectively just renamed itself. The rebrand was likely an attempt to shield Identity Evropa’s assets from the ‘Sines v. Kessler’ lawsuit; the American Identity Movement registered a new corporate nonprofit entity and Casey repeatedly insisted that the new group was totally separate from IE.
However, Unicorn Riot investigations found that the American Identity Movement was essentially the same exact group as Identity Evropa – the group was using the same PayPal account to solicit funds and even used an Identity Evropa email address to register nonprofit corporate filings for the American Identity Movement.
A leaked March 2019 call led by former IE organizer Matt Warner showed that Warner assured Identity Evropa members that their membership dues would “carry over” into the ‘new’ American Identity Movement. Patrick Casey also admitted in a ‘fireside chat’ with members that the new organization was created to avoid “baggage” from Identity Evropa’s association with Unite The Right.
In November 2020, Casey announced that the American Identity Movement was disbanding due to unspecified reasons.
Video depositions scheduled to be played for the jury in the Charlottesville lawsuit trial will include Elliot Kline, Patrick Casey and others from Identity Evropa, meaning that more unflattering information will soon come about regarding that used to be the most active neo-nazi group in the USA.
Title composite by Dan Feidt. Background image credit: Sang Hyun Cho, via Wikimedia Commons