Black lawmaker sues anti-abortion group over racist threat

FILE - Democratic Del. Danielle Walker, a former abortion patient, speaks at a press conference at the West Virginia state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. on Jan. 31, 2022 about a bill she's proposing that would lift restrictions on abortion in the state. Republican lawmakers in West Virginia have already introduced a different bill this session that would ban abortion after 15 weeks — a proposal nearly identical to the Mississippi law currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Leah Willingham)
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Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s only Black female lawmaker has filed a lawsuit against an anti-abortion group, citing a racist Facebook post and a racist email she said she received for supporting legislation that would remove all restrictions on abortion.

Delegate Danielle Walker filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court against West Virginians for Life and Richard Demoske, who resigned as president of the group’s Berkeley County chapter after he admitted posting the image of a Ku Klux Klansman on the group’s Facebook page. The post targeted Walker by name.

Walker said she remains in fear for her life and wears protective safety gear. The lawsuit alleges that the email and Facebook post were “authored and posted” by West Virginians for Life and “constitute the modern-day digital equivalent of burning a cross in Delegate Walker’s front yard.”

Walker, a Monongalia County Democrat, is co-sponsoring the legislation to repeal all abortion restrictions in West Virginia. A mother, she has spoken publicly about having an abortion in the past.

“These digital communications were and are designed by West Virginians for Life to harass, intimidate, and strike me with fear of violence if I continue my support of a woman’s right to choose,” Walker said in a statement.

West Virginians for Life did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment on the lawsuit Wednesday. Demoske resigned earlier this month from the chapter after admitting his action violated the group’s bylaws. He did not have a listed telephone number and did not immediately respond to a Facebook message from the AP.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages through a jury trial and asks for a restraining order to prohibit the defendants from further contact with Walker.

In contrast to Walker’s proposed measure, the Republican-led West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Tuesday that would ban abortion after 15 weeks, a piece of legislation almost identical to the Mississippi law currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The legislation will now move on to the state Senate, which is also dominated by Republicans.