Elon Musk is being sued by a Los Angeles man who was falsely identified by Elon Musk and others on X as an unmasked neo-Nazi involved in a violent confrontation with members of the Proud Boys far-right street gang in Portland this June.
The claim stems from a violent confrontation between the Portland Proud Boys and the Rose City Nationalists. The lawsuit, first reported on by HuffPost, describes some of the dynamics between the two groups which led to the confrontation, with the Rose City Nationalists being a group less concerned with the optics of their neo-Nazi positions and the Portland Proud Boys more sensitive to these concerns when presenting their public image.
“Some members of the Rose City Nationalists are former Proud Boys whose nakedly neo-Nazi rhetoric was viewed as an optics problem by Proud Boys leadership. As such, relations between the groups are hostile,” the lawsuit summarized.
The two groups confronted one another when they both went to demonstrate against Portland’s “Pride Night” on June 24th.
In the ensuing brawl, a couple of members of the Rose City Nationalists, who wore face coverings to conceal their identities, were unmasked by the Proud Boys.
Footage of the confrontation and the unmaskings went viral the next day online, and a theory based on a resemblance between one of the unmasked neo-Nazis and Benjamin Brody, who brought the suit against Musk, started spreading.
The lawsuit documents how the claim spread and developed through a series of accounts and tweets – including one highlighting a line in an Instagram post about Brody where he talks about planning to work for the government after graduating with a political science major.
At that point, the narrative that Musk would pick up on was established: that the man shown in the photo (whose real identity is still unknown according to the complaint) was a federal agent posing as a neo-Nazi as part of a psychological operation to make conservatives look bad.
Brody posted a video on his Instagram account on the 26th of June addressing the theories and posting evidence that he wasn’t anywhere near Oregon on the day of the brawl.
On the 27th, Zerohedge posted a write-up of the story echoing the federal agent theory.
“Looks like one is a college student (who wants to join the govt) and another is maybe an Antifa member, but nonetheless a probable false flag situation,” Musk wrote in response to a tweet sharing the story. The Zerohedge tweet has since been taken down, but Musk’s tweet has stayed up.
Brody is asking for damages in excess of a million dollars. In response to service, the complaint says, Musk refused to retract the accusation or delete his tweet. Instead, “Musk’s attorney indicated that Musk would seek fee shifting if Ben attempts to hold Musk accountable in court,” the lawsuit says.
The complaint against Musk draws a parallel between Jones’ and Musk’s behavior, documenting other times Musk spread what the complaint characterizes as lies and disinformation. In 2018, Musk settled for $20 million with the SEC over tweets where he claimed he’d take Tesla private at $420 a share.
“Worth it,” Musk said on Twitter then.