MORGANTOWN (WV News) — Del. Danielle Walker has sued West Virginians for Life and Richard Demonske over a racist meme that was sent to her.
The suit was filed in Monongalia County Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon. Walker is represented by Wheeling attorney Teresa Toriseva. This suit was previously filed in Kanawha County, but was dismissed by the judge due to improper venue, Toriseva explained.
“This case is in response to a violent, racist, hateful and intimidating email and Facebook post, authored and posted by the West Virginians for Life, using a Ku Klux Klan Klansman in full KKK hood and robe throwing a Nazi salute to harass and intimidate West Virginia’s only black female lawmaker from supporting a pro-choice bill,” the suit begins.
It continues, calling the actions taken by WVFL as the modern-day digital equivalent of burning a cross in Walker’s yard.
Walker is an elected pro-choice Democrat from the 51st district and WVFL is a nonprofit that works to promote pro-life policies and law. At the time of the incident, Demonske was president of the Berkeley County chapter of WVFL.
On Feb. 1, Walker received an email with the subject “Your Plan” and the racist image, according to the suit. A Facebook post using the same image and tagging Walker was also made.
Walker asked multiple colleagues in the House of Delegates if they received the email and discovered she was the only one.
Demoske claimed responsibility for the post and email; apologized, but not directly to Walker; admitted they were racist and resigned in a letter addressed “To Whom It May Concern.”
Walker, who has had three abortions in her life and publicly shared that fact, has been a regular target of WVFL and its supporters during her time as a political figure, the suit states.
One day, Walker found three small baby dolls on her desk at the state Legislature. According to the suit, this was clearly done to harass and intimidate her because she’s had three abortions.
Walker has said she now wears protective body gear when going to and from the state Capitol.
“Delegate Walker now fears for her life and for her mother and only surviving son who all live in Monongalia County, also the home of WVFL,” the suit states.
The suit brings four counts: Intimidation of and retaliation against public officers and employees; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent infliction of emotional distress, and petition for injunctive relief.
It seeks an order stopping WVFL and Demoske from targeting Walker through any medium of communication in any harassing, intimidating or racist way that could cause her to fear for her or her family’s safety.
It also asks for judgment against the defendants for “all damages under the law for harm caused by this racist, violent, and intimidating threat to Delegate Danielle Walker.”
WVFL has not responded to a request for comment. WV News could not reach Demoske.