Just a day after conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made headlines for facilitating another Kanye West antisemitic rant, the Infowars kingpin is back in the news – this time because he is filing for chapter 11 personal bankruptcy, due to the almost $1.5 billion in damages juries awarded this year to the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims. Jones infamously said repeatedly that the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in 2012 was a “false flag” operation and that no children actually died.
The filing happened in the Southern District of Texas in Houston; previously Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Jones’ Infowars, filed bankruptcy in July. According to The New York Times, “the new filing could further delay payment of the verdicts for the families, who would need to seek payment through the bankruptcy courts alongside other creditors. But it could also force a greater degree of scrutiny on the finances of Mr. Jones’s empire.”
Lawsuits against Jones have been ongoing for more than four years, with Jones refusing to provide business records or personal finances and oftentimes deliberately obscuring just how much he (and his various companies) actually have.
In October, a Connecticut jury awarded the families of the victims $965 million in compensatory damages, with a judge later amending the figure, awarding the families another $473 million in punitive damages. An earlier case in Texas awarded the parents of a child killed in the shooting $49 million in damages.
The timing of Jones’ filing is strategic. As the AP points out, there was a hearing scheduled on Friday morning on the Sandy Hook Families’ request to attach the assets of Jones and his company to secure money for the damages. The bankruptcy filing halted all proceedings in the Connecticut case and forced the judge to cancel today’s scheduled hearing.
Since Jones began spouting his unfounded, deeply harmful conspiracy theories, the victims’ families have been constantly harassed. (Twenty children and six adults were killed in the massacre.) Threats of violence have followed the families after Jones’ statements, which he categorically refused to back down from, even during the trials.
“Like every other cowardly move Alex Jones has made, this bankruptcy will not work,” Chris Mattei, one of the Connecticut lawyers working for the families, said in a statement. “The bankruptcy system does not protect anyone who engages in intentional and egregious attacks on others, as Mr. Jones did. The American judicial system will hold Alex Jones accountable, and we will never stop working to enforce the jury’s verdict.”