Chicago officials say a violent melee in a suburban restaurant Saturday afternoon appears to have been the work of radical protesters targeting suspected white supremacists, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Witnesses said up to 18 young people wearing hooded black jackets wielded metal bats and hammers against a group of 12 to 20 diners at the Ashford House Restaurant in Tinley Park, Ill. Ten people were injured, three of whom were hospitalized.
Police had said Saturday the attack did not appear to be a random act of violence or related to the ongoing NATO summit protests in Chicago. Instead, law enforcement said the assailants seemed to target the group, all of whom were visiting from out of town.
On Sunday, Mayor Ed Zabrocki told the Tribune that police believe the attackers were from a group called the Anti-Racist Action, which describes itself as being "on the front lines of the struggle against fascism and oppression."
The group took credit for the attack in a posting on its website, claiming it had disrupted a white nationalist meeting:
On Saturday, May 19th a group of 30 anti-fascists descended upon Ashford House restaurant in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park where the 5th annual White Nationalist Economic Summit and Illinois White Nationalist Meet-and-Greet was taking place. The White Nationalists were targeted inside the restaurant and physically attacked, causing several injuries and completely shutting down their meeting. The anti-fascist group was privy to anonymous inside information. This fascist event had been in secret planning for six months. The attendees have attempted to cover up the true intent of the event with mainstream media reports initially reporting the white nationalist conference as a wedding party and then as an Irish heritage meeting. The event was advertised on www.stormfront.org, an established white nationalist fascist internet forum.
A law enforcement source told the Tribune several of the victims did have ties to a white supremacist group; Zabrocki said police were still trying to sort out the exact links.
Five people were arrested in connection with the attack, WMAQ-TV reported.
Witness Lauryn Drozd told the station she was attending a wedding shower when the assailants rushed in and started attacking people.
"They had their hoods up, long sweatshirts on. I mean, you didn't see any -- I didn't see hair color or anything," she said. "Everybody was just screaming. They weren't saying certain things or anything like that. There was so much going on you couldn't hear everybody talking."
A long-time waitress, who declined to give her name, described the incident to the Tribune as "the scariest frickin’ day of my life.”
Restaurant owner Mike Winston told the newspaper the victim group had made a reservation for an Irish heritage group, but the waitress said she thought it was odd that none of them seemed to know each other or speak with an Irish accent.
One employee of the restaurant told the Tinley Park Patch “tables were being thrown and chairs were broken.”
“Then they were gone. They flashed in and out. They had people waiting for them outside," the employee said.