In October 2019, Sam Krzys, a member of law enforcement who works as a school resource officer in Weirton, posted a photo of himself proudly standing by a hooded figure hanging from a noose in a tree in his front yard. In his post, he referred to his family as the “crazy Krzys clan.”
The photograph was seen by many individuals and organizations who exercised their first amendment rights to discuss the public significance of the photo and point out the pain and terror caused by race-based lynchings in America, including here in West Virginia.
In the wake of the public outcry against officer Kryzs’ actions, he is now suing eight defendants, including West Virginia Industrial Workers of the World, for defamation, among other things. WV IWW denies that any action or statement it made was false or defamatory, and ACLU-WV is proud to defend the organization against Kryzs’ claims, which seek to silence people and organizations who speak up for change, justice and accountability in their communities.
“This could have been an opportunity for Mr. Kryzs to listen to the community and learn why so many were hurt and upset by the display in his yard,” said Loree Stark, ACLU-WV Legal Director. “Instead, he intentionally engaged the public by posting additional material meant to evoke racist imagery, and now has filed a baseless lawsuit to punish those who reacted and exercised their rights to speak freely.”
ACLU-WV, along with attorney Blair Preiser of the Lynch Law Group in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday filed a Motion to Dismiss on behalf of WV IWW in this action.