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‘Families drowned in grief and Alex Jones mocked them’: The nearly $1bn verdict

Far-right political commentator and outspoken conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, known for his website InfoWars and radio show The Alex Jones Show, will have to pay a high price for his activities.

A court in the state of Connecticut ruled that the host will have to pay $965 million in compensation to the families of those killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.

The families of eight victims and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting have sought at least $550 million in the Connecticut defamation lawsuit.

They allege that Jones’s misinformation led to a decade of harassment and death threats against them because on his broadcasts the popular radio host developed and promoted the idea that the Sandy Hook shooting was a government stunt to limit civil rights. personal gun ownership in the US.

On December 14, 2022, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then arrived at the school armed with a semi-automatic weapon and opened fire. 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 were killed, as well as six staff members – the principal, three teachers, a psychologist and a therapist.

The reason Alex Jones is being prosecuted in this tragic case is because the radio host publicly denies that such an incident ever happened and claims it was all staged. This has fueled tensions among many of his radical fans and led to harassment of the families affected by the shooting and threats against them, even on their lives.

Jones went so far as to claim that both the dead children and their parents were specially hired “crisis actors”, some of whom did not even exist.

The Connecticut trial included testimony from parents, siblings of the victims, who said they had been threatened and harassed for years by people who believed Jones’ lies.

Accounts of offensive comments and attacks on social networks are leading, but this is only part of it. Strangers have been showing up at victims’ homes to record them, and Erica Lafferty, the daughter of the slain school principal, testified that she received rape threats in her own home.

Mark Barden, for his part, told how conspiracy theorists urinated on the grave of his seven-year-old son Daniel and threatened to dig up the coffin.

“Every single one of these families was drowning in grief, and Alex Jones mocked them,” defense attorney Chris Mattei told the jury during three weeks of hearings.

According to the defense, the goal was to win fans, and from there, millions of dollars. Evidence is presented that during this period Jones gained popularity and more people bought into his brand of nutritional supplements and survival gear, which he promoted among far-right circles in the US.

However, these are not the only troubles for Jones. In August, he was ordered in Texas to pay $49.3 million in restitution to other injured parents.

The plaintiffs — who claim they suffered harassment and emotional distress because of the InfoWars founder’s misinformation — had sought $150 million.

In both cases, his company, Free Speech Systems, was found liable for default damages after Jones failed to cooperate with court authorities in sharing evidence, including refusing to turn over records that might show whether InfoWars had profited from the deliberate dissemination of disinformation about the mass murders.

The radio host now faces a third trial in Texas later this year in a lawsuit filed by the parents of another child killed in the shooting.

It is unclear how much Jones is able to pay benefits.

During the trial in Texas, he testified that he could not afford a judgment of more than $2 million, and Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy. The conspiracy theorist’s words were refuted by the financial expert entrusted with overseeing the company during its bankruptcy filing.

According to him, over the past two years, Alex Jones has withdrawn from Free Speech Systems an amount of about 62 million dollars. According to him, the InfoWars site alone received about $9 million in cryptocurrency donations that went directly into the host’s pocket, and the site itself is estimated to be worth $270 million.

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Jones responded to the jury’s decision on Wednesday, saying on his show that “this is what hell should look like.”

“However, you won’t get the money,” he says. “They want to scare everybody out of freedom. They want to scare us into asking about Uvalde and what really happened there or in Parkland,” Jones added, referring to the mass school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, this year and in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. They killed a total of 39 people.

In court, Jones admitted that the Sandy Hook shooting was “100 percent real.” He also said he had already apologized “hundreds of times” and was done repeating “sorry”.

Outside the courtroom, he continues in his style, denouncing the trial as “showy” led by a “tyrant” judge. Jones also believes that he is not to blame for the actions of his followers.

“We’re not afraid, we’re not going to walk away and we’re not going to stop… For hundreds of thousands of dollars, I can hold them in court for years, I can appeal these things, we can stand up to this travesty and the billions of dollars they want.” , he said on his show before asking listeners for donations.

“The money is not going to these people,” he claims. “They will go to fight this fraud and to stabilize the company.”

We cannot both want a good education and believe that satellites are intentionally making us sick

Although facing financial collapse, Jones is unlikely to go down any time soon. Appeals are still pending, and he will no doubt use all possible means to delay the execution of the sentences.

Sam tries to present himself as a victim and a martyr to his followers, among whom his popularity does not decrease.

Although InfoWars is banned on social media like YouTube and Facebook, the site continues to attract huge numbers of people. In the last month alone, it has had 7.3 million visits, according to analytics platform Similarweb.

“We will pursue this sentence to the end because that’s what justice demands,” said attorney Chris Mattei.

“There will always be guys like Alex Jones, but what they learned here today is that they will all be held accountable.”

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