Hatewatch

Anti-Racists Charged in Attack on White Nationalists

Five Indiana men were charged today in a violent attack Saturday that injured 10 alleged participants in a meeting to plan white nationalist strategy at a suburban Chicago restaurant.

Anti-Racist Action (ARA), a loosely organized group that fights racism, took credit on its website for the attacks, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the suspects are members. The group does have a Hoosier chapter. ARA spokespeople did not respond to E-mail requests for interviews.

The men were charged with felony mob action, felony aggravated battery and felony criminal damage to property, according to Steven Neubauer, chief of police in Tinley Park, Ill. The alleged attack took place just after noon at the Ashford House Restaurant. The men charged are Jason Sutherlin of Gossport, Ind.; Cody Sutherlin, Dylan Sutherlin and Robert Stuck of Bloomington, Ind.; and John Tucker of Spencer, Ind.

Police also charged two men who were at the meeting that was targeted. Neubauer said the men told police they were members of the European Heritage Association. It’s a white supremacist group that organized the meeting through posts on the Stormfront white nationalist website. The meeting was called the 5th annual White Nationalist Economic Summit and Illinois White Nationalist Meet-and-Greet. The two charged were Steven Eugene Speers of Grand Forks, N.D., arrested on a warrant for child pornography, and Francis John Gilroy Jr. of West Palm Beach, FL, charged with unlawful possession of weapons by a felon.

Police are continuing to investigate the attack, hoping to identify up to 13 others who may have participated and then fled.

About 18 attackers, wearing masks and dressed in black, allegedly threw bats, hammers and chairs after entering the restaurant, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Ten were injured, with three treated at local hospitals.  Damage to the restaurant totaled $10,000 to $15,000, according to co-owner Mike Winston.

“When they made the reservation to meet here, they claimed to be from an Irish heritage group,” Winston told Hatewatch. “We don’t ask people what political agendas they have, and we don’t know any of these groups.” The pub and restaurant, in a heavily Irish suburb on the south side of Chicago, is family-owned. “Our average patron is 50 to 70 years old. We’ve never had anything like this happen in our 15 years at this location.”

Daryle Lamont Jenkins of the anti-racist One People’s Project (OPP) said plans for the meeting had been mentioned on Stormfront. “But we didn’t know anything about the attack,” Jenkins said. “This came out of nowhere for us.”

Some of the alleged organizers of the Tinley Park meeting, those who posted on Stormfront, were on a membership list of neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement that OPP posted on its website in March. The ARA group may have matched some of the names from the Stormfront planning group with that NSM membership list, Jenkins noted.

The ARA alleged that among meeting organizers were Shawn Kayden and Jeffrey Burns of the NSM and Beckie Williams of the Council of Conservative Citizens. The CCC is a white nationalist hate group formed out of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to defend school segregation. The CCC’s website has referred to blacks as “a retrograde species of humanity.” The group is also anti-Semitic, anti-gay and anti-immigrant. Burns also has been linked to the American Third Position, a California-based white supremacist group that aims to deport non-white immigrants and return the U.S. to white rule.

The ARA website pledges to fight racist and fascist groups partly “by denying (them) the opportunity to monopolize public spaces and by denying racists and fascists the chance to turn public spaces into spaces that are hostile toward people of color, women, immigrants, queers and trans folks, the disabled and others.” The group pledges to use “innovative, creative and highly effective tactics.”

There was initial speculation that the Tinley Park attacks might be linked to protesters against the NATO summit meeting in Chicago on Sunday and Monday. No links so far have been confirmed between either group and the NATO summit, said police chief Neubauer.