Yesterday, we told you the story of how a group of radical protesters decided to invade a meeting of white supremacists at a local restaurant and assault the participants. It's not often that a story is morally ambiguous because both sides come off as undesirable, but in this case, it's tough to see any other angle.
However, to the White Supremacists' credit, they at least didn't throw enough punches to get arrested and charged with felony mob action, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property, as the protesters in this case were. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that five of the protesters have been charged with precisely that:
Five Indiana men have been charged with felony mob action, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property for their roles in an attack Saturday on a group dining at a Tinley Park restaurant, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney said Monday morning.
Bails ranging from $175,000 to $250,000 were set for the five men at the Bridgeview courthouse.
Charged were John Tucker, 26, of Martinsville, Ind.; Cody Sutherlin, 23, of Bloomington, Ind.; Dylan Sutherlin, 20, and Jason Sutherlin, 33, both of Gosport, Ind.; and Alex Stuck, 22, of Bloomington, Ind., Cook County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Sally Daly said.
All three men are facing bail of at least $150,000.
As in any case like this, the question of just who the criminals are is coming into play. We at the Blaze have done some digging and uncovered some alarming information about at least one of the men involved, as well as about the organization that has claimed responsibility for their actions. We've also been able to put two of the men's names to faces, thanks to the magic of Facebook:
However, it's the third of the Sutherlin brothers, Jason, who may have the most interesting history. While Mr. Sutherlin's face has proven elusive, Favstar.fm has linked someone named Jason Sutherlin from Bloomington, Indiana, to a Twitter account named 812Gorilla. According to Favstar.fm, this is one of 812Gorilla's top Tweets:
So if this is the same Jason Sutherlin, then along with being a homespun anti-racist vigilante, Mr. Sutherlin is also affiliated with Occupy Bloomington (which the hashtag Occupybtown signifies). Lovely.
However, given the identity of the group that was responsible for the attack's own past, Occupy Bloomington might be one of the more savory connections to have. You may recall we told you yesterday that Anti-Racist Action, or ARA, had claimed credit for the attack. With a name like Anti-Racist Action, you might expect the group to at least be well-intentioned, right?
...Well, not exactly. The National Website of ARA has several sections on its "About" section detailing precisely what its members believe. Much of the material there is troubling. Greatest hits follow (with emphasis added):
Most anti-racist groups focus all their efforts on creating new laws or getting the police to respond to racism. But the cops uphold white supremacy and the status quo; they attack us and everyone that resists oppression. This means that police are not likely to get involved with fighting racist and fascists until they have hurt or killed someone. We think that that's too late and that any anti-racist group that doesn't organize an effective opposition to racist and fascists before they hurt people is not doing their job.[...]
Fascism is an ultra-nationalist ideology that mobilizes around and glorifies a national or perceived racial identity, valuing this identity above all other interests (for example gender or class). Fascism is marked by its hostility towards reason and human solidarity, by its dehumanization and scapegoating of marginalized or oppressed groups, by its use of violence or threats of violence to impose its views on others, and by its rejection of supposedly “effeminate” or “soft” values in favor of “manliness.” Anti-Semitism and racism are primary facets of National Socialism and most other varieties of fascism. Fascism aims at a militarized society, and organizes along military or quasi-military lines, usually with an authoritarian structure revolving around a single, charismatic leader. Fascist groups may have the facade of an efficient and dynamic organization, but in reality, power structures are arbitrary and ruthless. Fascists use anti-elitist rhetoric to appeal to the “common man,” coupled with internal elitism and willingness to accept support from existing elites. Fascism glorifies a mythologized past as justification for its present ideological stances, and as a basis for future organization of society.
And then there is this highly interesting take on the "free speech" rights of so-called fascists:
- ARA does not use the state to prevent anyone's free speech. The right to free speech restricts the state from censoring ideas, it does not stop the public from opposing hateful ideas.
- The fact that people dislike what bigots have to say and want to make that known is not prohibited by the concept of free speech. If bigots actively go out of their way to tell people that 90% of the world's population should be enslaved or that the best thing they can do is kill someone because of their skin color, religion, ethnic background, immigration status, sexual orientation, disability, etc., they can't use "free speech" to silence opposition.
- Anti-racists and antifascists have an obligation to deny a platform to bigots so that they can't spread their message and recruit. Concert venues, meeting halls, radio programs, and the like make choices about who to host on a regular basis. These choices have a very real impact on bigoted ideas taking root in one's community.
- Responding to bigoted speech is important. We believe in being proactive when it comes to fascist violence, which means confronting fascist organizing before they have a chance to put their ideas into action, and taking fascist threats seriously.
Got all that? We hope so. Your not being beaten to a pulp may depend on it.
Now, granted, some of this may sound okay on paper. The problem is that based on how we've seen an actual chapter of ARA behave, everything written here has to be read with an understanding that an undercurrent of potential violence is involved. This is especially the case on the "Theory" section of the website, which includes articles supporting the abolition of the prison system. How that abolition would be accomplished is, presumably, though some combination of agitation and violence.
Does this really accomplish anything regarding the abolition of racism? Or is it just cover for hoodlums to cause social chaos? Decide for yourself.