This is a guest post by Chuck Ross.
The group that has claimed responsibility for a mob attack at a Chicago-area restaurant over the weekend is the same group that hosted former Weather Underground terrorists and Barack Obama associates Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers last year, according to fliers published on the organization’s web site.
That group, as The Blaze mentioned earlier this week, is Anti-Racist Action (ARA). According to its own website and a documentary on the group, ARA formed in the 1980s under the street name “The Baldies” in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area and as anti-racist skinheads to combat neo-Nazi groups that were gaining power.
On Saturday afternoon, a group of eighteen people wearing all black stormed Ashford House, a restaurant in Tinley Park, a community in the Chicago metro area. Ten people were injured in the attack and three were placed in the hospital.
Various news outlets have reported that the group targeted in the attack was associated with Stormfront, a website popular among white nationalists and white supremacists.
Discussion threads on that website suggest that the meeting at Ashford House was a meet-and-greet for forum members. The docket for their luncheon, which was organized under an organization calling itself the Illinois European Heritage Association, suggests that their goal was “economic networking.” The coordinator of the event, later identified as Beckie Williams, said the event was not racist, while material for the gathering was meant to promote “work for whites."
One of the men hospitalized in the attack, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Blaze, “Our group is not a violent group. We do not condone violence at all.” The man, who received eight stitches after suffering a head wound and bruised left eye socket, said that the attackers terrorized the party. “They were armed with weapons from metal batons, hammers, nun chucks, wood batons, and various other items. They even used chairs and tables as weapons.”
Witnesses at Ashford House reported that the assailants were meeting in front of the restaurant prior to the attack and stormed in, singling out specific group members for attack. Some patrons and Ashford House employees were also injured.
As previously reported by The Blaze, five men have been arrested for their participation in the attack: three brothers – Jason Sutherlin, Dylan Sutherlin, and Cody Sutherlin, all hailing from Bloomington, Indiana – as well as two other men, Alex Stuck and James Tucker. All are being held on charges of mob attack, aggravated battery, and destruction of property and are being held on bonds of at least $150,000.
The Sutherlin brothers have ties to the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement / Indiana Antifa (“antifascist”) Support group (H.A.R.M.) -- which is listed on ARA’s umbrella website as an ARA chapter. One of the Sutherlin brothers, Dylan, had ties on Facebook to the movement as well as several Occupy Chapters including “Occupy Indiana University”, “Occupy Indianapolis”, and “Occupy Bloomington."
H.A.R.M., the Bloomington, Indiana arm of ARA, ceased supporting Occupy Indianapolis because the movement had failed to establish a physical presence in the city and because, according to H.A.R.M.’s website, it “systematically alienated, disenfranchised, and censored radical voices both during its physical occupation and via its online presence.”
None of the ARA chapters could be reached for comment. The nature of the planning efforts and communication between ARA’s South Chicago chapter and H.A.R.M. are unknown.
ARA held its 17th Annual Anti-Racist Action Network Conference on September 17 of last year. Among several other speakers, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were said to have appeared. The group issued a flier touting that fact, which is available on its website. Neither Dohrn nor Ayers could be reached for comment.
Ayers and Dohrn were members of the radical Weather Underground group and were on the run from the law after terrorist activities in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Ayers is a retired professor of education from the University of Illinois – Chicago and Dohrn is a professor at Northwestern University.
ARA has since developed into a general left-wing organization. They now have chapters all throughout the United States and Canada with a presence in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Toronto, Montreal and dozens of other cities.
Chuck Ross is a freelance writer.