White nationalist's lawyer wants out of rally violence case

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2017, file photo, white nationalist Richard Spencer speaks at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.   Spencer blames his notoriety for his failure to pay a lawyer to defend him against a lawsuit over violence that erupted at a Virginia rally that he helped organize.  Spencers attorney on Thursday, June 11, 2020 asked a federal magistrate judge for permission to withdraw from representing him in the case.(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2017, file photo, white nationalist Richard Spencer speaks at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Spencer blames his notoriety for his failure to pay a lawyer to defend him against a lawsuit over violence that erupted at a Virginia rally that he helped organize. Spencers attorney on Thursday, June 11, 2020 asked a federal magistrate judge for permission to withdraw from representing him in the case.(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A leading white nationalist told a judge on Thursday that his notoriety has made it difficult for him to raise money for his defense against a “financially crippling” lawsuit that names him as an organizer of a rally in Virginia that erupted into violence in 2017.

Richard Spencer’s attorney has asked for the court’s permission to withdraw from representing him in the civil case. The lawyer, John DiNucci, said Spencer owes him a significant amount of money in legal fees and hasn’t been cooperating adequately.

Spencer told U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Hoppe that the lawsuit over the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 has been “extremely expensive” and a “huge burden” for him.

“This case has been financially crippling for a long time,” said Spencer, who popularized the term “alt-right” to describe a loosely connected fringe movement of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists.

Lawyers for victims of the Charlottesville rally violence sued several far-right extremist groups and individuals who participated in the event, which was organized in part to protest the city’s planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The lawsuit names Spencer as one of the organizers of the Aug. 12, 2017, rally. Spencer was scheduled to speak at the gathering but has denied that he helped organize it.

Spencer said getting banned from mainstream internet platforms has made it difficult for him raise and accept donations from supporters.

“That’s something that I have proven to be able to do in the past, fairly easily to be honest, but it’s something that I cannot do now,” he said. “When I attempt to raise money, there are various groups that make it their life’s mission to get me kicked off the platform.”

Violent street clashes broke out in Charlottesville on Aug 12, 2017, before a man fascinated with Adolf Hitler plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman. On the eve of the rally, Spencer and others marched through the University of Virginia’s campus, shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.