Website Asks Ashford House 5 Supporters to 'Pack Courtroom' Next Month
A website devoted to raising money to pay the legal fees for the five Indiana men charged assault in this summer's restaurant brawl wants to show solidarity for the defendants at their next court date in January.
A website put out a call Monday to show support for the five Indiana men charged for their involvement in the Ashford House attack case, asking sympathizers to "pack the courtroom" at the defendants' January court date.
The site—TinleyPark5.wordpress.com, which has been raising money to help pay the group's legal fees—and Chicago Anarchist Black Cross posted online statements, explaining that attending the defendants' Jan. 4 hearing at the Bridgeview Courthouse will show the court what kind of public support the men have.
"[The website] asked us to pack the courtroom not only to show solidarity to our comrades who are facing these ridiculous charges but also to let the judge know just how many people are watching this case," read the posting for the event on ChicagoABC's Facebook page.
John Tucker, 26; Cody Sutherlin, 24; Dylan Sutherlin, 20; Alex Stuck, 22; and Jason Sutherlin, 33, have pleaded not guilty to mob action, armed violence, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property. They all have been in custody since the May 19 incident.
Police say the five men—three of whom are brothers—stormed the Ashford House restaurant in Tinley Park with their faces covered and began pummeling a group of diners and random patrons, using extendable batons, table legs, nunchucks and bats. Authorities have said those targeted were affiliated with white supremacist movements, and defendants are said to be members of the Anti-Racist Action (ARA), a network of militant left-wing groups. But attorneys for the men say the five were part of a group of 15 to 20 people planning a peaceful protest of the suspected white supremacists' meeting.
At a hearing Monday, Dec. 17, lawyers for the Ashford House 5 declined a plea deal from a Cook County judge. The offer, however, is still on the table, and the men want to see how the judge will rule Jan. 4 on a motion to suppress the vehicle stop that resulted in their arrests.
The defendants—known collectively as the Ashford House 5 or the Tinley Park 5—have become symbols for members of anti-racism and anti-fascist organizations around the United States. Since the brawl, the group has been used as a rallying point for protests and fundraisers.
"Had the TP5 ran into that restaurant and done everything that they're accused of doing with the intent to rob someone, they would have been released by now," wrote Jacob Domke, a member of the Indiana-based Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement, in a Patch letter to the editor that explained why he thought the men were being treated unfairly by the justice system. "They would have been offered a quick and easy plea deal since no one was seriously injured. However, this is not the situation at hand. … This is not a typical criminal case and is inherently political both because of the alleged motivations of the defendants and the response by the State."
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