22 February 2013

Freedom Now for Tinley Park 5!


On January 4, a Cook County court sentenced five anti-racist militants to prison terms of three and a half to six years on “armed violence” charges that stem from the breaking up of a fascist meeting last spring. Plans to convene a “White Nationalist Economic Summit” attracted a group of the scum, some with links to the Stormfront Web site run by a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon, to the Ashford House restaurant in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park on May 19. Having gotten wind of this outrage, at least 18 anti-racists went to the restaurant and put an end to the “summit,” sending some of the creeps to the hospital. Shortly after, police pulled over and arrested a carload of five anti-fascists from Bloomington, Indiana—Jason Sutherlin, Cody Lee Sutherlin, Dylan Sutherlin, Alex Stuck and John Tucker—who have come to be known as the Tinley Park 5. The trouncing of the “white nationalists” was a courageous act in the interest of the working class and all the fascists’ intended victims. Free the Tinley Park 5!

Each of the five was initially charged with 37 felony counts, including armed violence, property damage and mob action, with bond set at $175,000 to $250,000 apiece. The cops and prosecutors applied continuous pressure to force them to give up names of those involved in sending the fascists scattering, which the five have steadfastly refused to do. Unable to meet the exorbitant bonds, they spent seven months in Cook County Jail while legal proceedings dragged on. Facing the prospect of up to another year behind bars to go to a trial whose outcome they could not predict, the five accepted a non-cooperating plea bargain in which each pled guilty to three counts of armed violence in return for guarantees of time off for good behavior.

The witchhunt against the Tinley Park 5 was part and parcel of the hysteria whipped up against protesters at the NATO summit taking place that same May 19-20 weekend in downtown Chicago. With the city center turned into an armed camp, politicians, cops and the local media vilified and violence-baited the anti-NATO protesters, particularly anarchists and those participating in Black Bloc actions. Three anti-NATO protesters are still in jail after being set up by a police provocateur and charged under Illinois anti-terrorism statutes, the first time these laws were ever used (see “Defend Anti-NATO Protesters!” WV No. 1003, 25 May 2012).

It is a good thing that the fascist “summit” was dispersed and the Hitler-loving vermin were sent scurrying. The fascists are not simply carriers of a genocidal worldview but deal in race terror against black people, Jews, immigrants, gays and anyone else they perceive as “impure.” Last August, a neo-Nazi skinhead murdered six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin, and in July 2011 a fascist massacred 69 people at a social-democratic youth camp in Norway. In 1999, a disciple of fascist Matthew Hale went on a racist shooting rampage in Illinois and Indiana, killing a black former Northwestern University basketball coach and a Korean student and wounding nine others, including six orthodox Jews. In 2007, another Hale follower torched a black family’s home in Joliet.

The fascists pose a deadly threat to the entire labor movement and left. The capitalist rulers hold these shock troops in reserve so that in times of crisis and social struggle they can be unleashed to defend the bourgeois order. Take the example of Greece, where the fascist marauders of Golden Dawn are today carrying out daily attacks on immigrants and leftists in collusion with the capitalist cops and courts.

As Trotskyists, we look to the organized power of the working class, standing at the head of all those targeted by the fascists, as the force that can drive this scum off the streets. We have initiated labor/black mobilizations to stop Klan provocations, including one in Springfield, Illinois, in 1994. Such mobilizations are important in helping to make the working class conscious of its historic interest and potential social power as the gravedigger of the decaying capitalist system that breeds fascism.

The Partisan Defense Committee, a legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League, has donated $100 to the defense fund for the Tinley Park 5 and their families. Donations can be made at www.wepay.com/donations/legal-defense-fund-for-the-tinley-park-five. 

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1018, 22 February 2013)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.