3 May 2013

Free Tinley Park Anti-Fascists!

Last May, some 18 anti-racist militants broke up a gathering of fascists in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park called to organize a “White Nationalist Economic Summit.” Among the vermin sent scurrying were some with links to the Stormfront Web site run by a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon. Such fascist meetings are not merely right-wing discussion clubs but organizing centers for race terror against black people, Jews, immigrants, gays and anyone else the white-supremacists consider subhuman. For their basic act of social sanitation, five of the anti-fascist fighters were sentenced by a Cook County court to prison terms of three-and-a-half to six years on charges of “armed violence.” (See “Freedom Now for Tinley Park 5!” WV No. 1018, 22 February.)

The Spartacist League and the Partisan Defense Committee stand by these militants and call on workers, leftists and anti-racist fighters to demand freedom for the Tinley Park Five. The fascists are a deadly threat to the integrated labor movement, which should be in the forefront of efforts to crush them in the egg. Four of the five who were sentenced—Jason Sutherlin, Cody Lee Sutherlin, Dylan Sutherlin and Alex Stuck—have agreed to receive $25 monthly stipends the PDC sends to class-war prisoners. The PDC program, which includes additional gifts during the holiday season, serves not merely to alleviate some of the harshness of incarceration but also as a message of solidarity from those outside prison walls.

The courage of the Tinley Park defendants was seen in their principled response to the government vendetta. Each of the five was initially charged with 37 felony counts, including armed violence, property damage and mob action. The cops and prosecutors applied continuous pressure to try to get them to give up names of those involved in sending the fascists scattering, which the five steadfastly refused to do. Unable to meet the exorbitant bonds, which ranged up to $250,000, they spent seven months in Cook County Jail. Facing the prospect of up to another year behind bars awaiting trial, they accepted a non-cooperating agreement in which each pleaded guilty to three counts of armed violence in return for guarantees of time off for good behavior.

In their letters agreeing to receive PDC stipends, the four expressed appreciation for the contributions and also for the issues of Class-Struggle Defense Notes and Workers Vanguard that they have received. One noted that his fellow inmates lined up to read the WV article about their case.

Initiated in 1986, the stipend program takes as its model that of the International Labor Defense (ILD), affiliated to the early Communist Party, which provided stipends to over 100 prisoners of the class war. As James P. Cannon, founder and first secretary of the ILD, wrote, “The class conscious worker accords to the class war prisoners a place of singular honor and esteem” (“The Cause That Passes Through a Prison,” Labor Defender [September 1926]). Past PDC recipients worldwide include an Irish Republican Socialist Party militant, members of the British National Union of Mineworkers and members of the U.S. miners, Teamsters and Steelworkers unions. Now, the Tinley Park anti-fascists are joined in the program with America’s foremost class-war prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier, radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, former Black Panther supporters Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter and imprisoned members of the Philadelphia MOVE commune.

We urge WV readers to contribute to the stipend program by sending checks payable to the PDC and earmarked “prisoners stipends fund” to: PDC, P.O. Box 99, Canal St. Station, New York, NY 10013-0099. Letters to the Tinley Park Five can be sent to: Alex Stuck M34020, 2600 N. Brinton Avenue, Dixon, IL 61021; Cody Sutherlin M34021, 13423 E. 1150th Avenue, Robinson, IL 62454; Dylan Sutherlin M34022, P.O. Box 7711, Centralia, IL 62801; Jason Sutherlin M34023, 100 Hillcrest Rd., East Moline, IL 61244; John Tucker M34024, P.O. Box 549, Lincoln, IL 62656. 

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1023, 3 May 2013)

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