A North Adams man who claims he lost his job because of Marty Walsh's statements urging rightwingers not hold a rally on the Common days after other rightwingers went on a violent rampage in Charlottesville, VA in 2017 had his $100-million libel case thrown out in state court. Now he's trying again in federal court.
In his self-filed suit, filed this time in US District Court in Boston against both Walsh and the city of Boston, Brandon Navom alleges that Walsh's pre-rally comments urging racists to stay out of Boston whipped Bostonians into a hateful frenzy that led to him losing his IT job.
Walsh did not mention Navom by name in any of his comments, and Navom says he never actually showed up at the small rally at the Parkman Bandstand, but he was outed as a possible speaker by local antifa activists.
Three months after the minuscule rally at the bandstand, where a tiny band of rightwingers were surrounded by a heavy cordon of police and thousands of counter protesters. Navom sued Walsh in Berkshire County Superior Court. Walsh's attorney moved to have the case dismissed because that court doesn't normally hear cases involving Boston. A judge there then transferred the case to Middlesex Superior Court, which normally doesn't hear cases involving Boston, either, but at least is closer.
In October, 2018, a judge there dismissed the case, ruling Walsh's statements about how rightwingers should stay out of Boston were protected speech.
Navom appealed. Last fall, the Massachusetts Appeals Court declined to overturn the ruling.
In his federal complaint, Navom says the group he was involved with has no connection with the Charlottesville tiki-torchers and were only interested in furthering "rational discourse in our society" and that it was just an unfortunate coincidence the Boston rally was scheduled a week after one of the Charlottesville Nazis murdered a woman by driving his car into her.
Navom, who said he had a good reputation as an IT worker in Boston before the event, charged that Walsh libeled him by accusing Common organizers of inviting "White supremacist and/or members of hate groups" to Boston when, goodness, nothing could be further from the truth. And certainly neither he nor any of the other organizers were themselves white supremacists and/or members of hate groups, he continues.
He charges that Walsh knew the organizers were just good people out to encourage discourse and that he only spewed his own hate "purely out of malice and political gain," specifically because he was running for re-election that year.
And all of City Hall is to blame as well, Navom's complaint continues, because the city "lacked any mechanism to force Walsh to refrain from commenting publicly about issues that had no connection to the city and then falsely link them to the city to generate publicity in an election year."
Navom charges that virtually no one in Boston knew about his group's rally before the mayor started fulminating about it (ed. note: come on now) and that therefore the dangerous conditions were created by the mayor, not him and the other organizers.
Navom, who says he was fired the day after the mayor first began complaining about the proposed rally, and who says he continues to suffer from being falsely accused of being a white supremacist, says he is owed $100 million in general damages, along with whatever amounts a jury would levy for punitive and special damages.
The city has yet to file its answer to the lawsuit. However, in its answer to Navom's Massachusetts Appeals Court brief, the city said that, in fact, at least one Charlottesville organizer had been invited to speak on the Common by organizers of that rally, in addition to a guy who gained notoriety for confronting protesters with a stick in California, another who is "a proponent of date rape and an advocate of sexual violence" and, of course, "darling of the far right" Shiva Ayaddurai, who in fact did appear.
But in any case, the city continued, there was a more fundamental flaw with Navom's libel assertion: "Navom’s defamation claim fails because Mayor Walsh’s statements amount to nothing more than opinions. Opinions are protected by the First Amendment and are not actionable as a matter of law. "
Navom's federal complaint (1.4M PDF).
Boston's answer to his appeals-court argument (104k PDF).