The following letter by Jacob Domke, a member of the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement, was sent in response to the Sept. 27 Patch article, Tinley Park 5 Becomes Symbol for Anti-Rascist Groups Across the Country. The five Indiana men being tried in the Ashford House attack are said to be connected with this organization. Go to the group's website for more information.
I think the question the editor brings up about the community impact of an action such as the TP5 are accused of is valid. Antifascists have, at times, been remiss in not taking repercussions to the communities seriously enough. That said, I feel that the negative repercussions to the Tinley Park community are far outweighed by the damage inflicted upon the white supremacists' ability to organize. The business owner is the only person not affiliated with white supremacy who had any real negative repercussions thrown their way. Let's keep in mind that he blames BOTH groups even though the alleged action at the restaurant cost him several thousand dollars. Since he's the most effected community member in this case, I have a hard time offering up sympathy to anyone who was less effected yet demands more vengeance. If I assume that media portrayal of the incident is at all accurate, I can imagine it would have been very scary and confusing for someone to see first hand. I'm sorry that those who weren't there for the meeting between the National Socialist Movement, Council of Conservative Citizens, and KKK [Editor's note: ] were put in a position where they had to bear witness to violence. My assumption is that most residents of Tinley Park have never seen violence except as portrayed on a television.
I could go into a long discussion about how our tax dollars fund violence towards people of color, whether that be through the funding of foreign wars or police violence. I could add that the majority of clothing we wear was manufactured by the violence of Asian sweatshops. We live in a violent world and I believe we are all complicit in that violence. However, I don't presume to think that I'll change anyone's mind on the violence versus nonviolence debate in a letter to the editor. The main point that I would like to raise is in response to those who hold beliefs that "they broke the law" and regardless of their motivations deserve to punished.
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. 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. Let's keep this in perspective. This summer in Chicago there were evenings in which as many as 25 people were shot. That day in Tinley Park three die-hard, hate-crime committing, honest-to-God Nazis had to have a couple stitches put in their dense little heads and were sent home the same day. The TP5's bail was set $175K-$250K each (higher than Trayvon Martin's killer George Zimmerman). The Department of Corrections has stolen their commissary, loses the majority of their correspondence, and repeatedly switches their locations within the jail to prevent them from organizing and sharing reading materials with fellow inmates. The prosecution refuses to offer a reasonable plea. The TP5 families have been targeted. A relative of one of the TP5 had her dog murdered by friends of the "innocent diners" in the aftermath of the media attention it has gotten. 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.
My main point is that if the "law and order" argument were a genuine one, then this case should be treated no differently than anyone else who was accused of beating up a few violent criminals. This is absolutely not what's happening. From a "law and order" perspective they should be fined for the damages caused to the innocent third party and released on time served, just as anyone accused of similar crimes (with different motivations) would be in Chicago.
Jacob Domke, Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement
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Check Out Patch's Coverage of the Ashford House Case:
- Lawyers: Ashford House Five in Talks for Plea Deal
- Ashford House Defendant Asks for Jury Trial
- Ashford House 5 Lawyers Call Arrest 'Invalid'
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