SPLC Intelligence Report: Bloody Chicago attack is latest battle in long feud between white supremacists and ‘anti-fascists’

A bloody battle that erupted when anti-racists stormed a suburban Chicago restaurant and attacked white nationalists with bats and batons last year is just the latest skirmish in a decades-long war between white supremacists and “anti-fascists” that continues to rage, according to the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, released today.

The May 19, 2012, incident in Tinley Park, Ill., involved as many as 18 anti-racists in a fast and furious attack that resulted in five men pleading guilty to armed violence and receiving prison sentences as long as six years. It highlighted the long history of violence between white supremacists and self-described “anti-fascists” that includes the 1998 murder of two anti-racist skinheads in a neo-Nazi plot. The latest incident has some anti-racists asking how things could have been different. It also underscores the challenge law enforcement faces in preventing such violence.

“There is a long and volatile history of street fighting between white supremacists and anti-racists,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC and editor of the Intelligence Report. “Far too often, the result has been violence that solves nothing at all, as we have seen in Chicago and elsewhere. Law enforcement can play a crucial role in preventing demonstrations by either of these groups from turning into bloody confrontations.

Though many of their battles go unnoticed, they occasionally explode into public view. In 1979, for example, five leftist activists and labor organizers were gunned downed by white supremacists during an anti-Klan march and labor rally in Greensboro, N.C. In 2002, scores of anti-racists and neo-Nazi skinheads fought a daylong street battle in York, Pa., an incident that resulted in at least 25 arrests and became known as the Battle of York. 

The report, which includes tips to help law enforcement prevent such violent confrontations, is contained in the Summer 2013 issue of the SPLC’s quarterly investigative journal Intelligence Report and can be read here  

Also in this issue of the Intelligence Report: 

  • “The Aryan Accountant” exposes a well-known and respected certified public accountant – whose firm has audited many of Idaho’s public schools and government bodies – as a man who led a secret life as a neo-Nazi.  
  • “Battle Lines” examines how, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, more than 400 sheriffs are promising to “oppose and disallow” any new federal gun control measures. Much of their brazen talk about taking the law into their own hands is rooted in the ideology of the racist, anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus movement. 
  • In Suspect Science,” an expert appointed to review a recent study of LGBT families that is being trumpeted by anti-gay groups says it was fatally flawed and calls its author “disgraced.”  
  • Behind the Walls” looks at plans by far-right extremists to build a walled city complete with its own arms factory in northern Idaho. Ironically, this proposed city for “Patriots” who love the Constitution and hate “liberals, Marxists and blue voters” is being hyped at the same time that Idaho’s governor is urging arms and ammunition makers to relocate to his gun-friendly state.