When five men, faces covered, burst in to Tinley Park's Ashford House in May and attacked a group of diners and some random patrons, the incident made national news, the kind of event that makes headlines because of its audacity but fades into the background—except at the local level—after a few days, replaced by footage of improper TSA pat-downs or Kim Kardashian updates.
READ: Ashford House 5 Lawyers Call Arrest 'Invalid'
In fact, a hearing to determine whether evidence in the case of the Tinley Park 5—the five Indiana men accused in the attack—was illegally obtained is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 27, and it probably won't make a blip on the radars of the many news outlets outside of the area.
But among certain groups across the country, the Tinley Park 5—John Tucker, 26; Cody Sutherlin, 23; Dylan Sutherlin, 20; Alex Stuck, 22; and Jason Sutherlin, 33—aren't just the subject of links to be e-mailed to friends and co-workers. The group has become a cause célèbre for members of anti-racism and anti-fascist organizations around the United States. Activists have sponsored benefits to help fund the men's legal defense and used the 5 as a rallying cry in demonstrations.
Here's a look at some of what's being done in other parts of the country in support of the Tinley Park 5:
- On July 31, a dozen activists in Salt Lake City marched on the city's Federal Building and police station, demanding the release of the Tinley Park 5. It was part of International Day Against Fascism, which was being honored this year to show solidarity for the men. The political collective NYC Anarchist Black Cross used the day to hold one of its political prisoner letter-writing dinners and had participants send notes to the Tinley Park 5.
- A benefit concert to help raise money to pay legal costs for the Tinley Park 5 was held in September in Philadelphia. Called a "Show of Unity," the event included live musical performances, and groups, such as Hoosiers Anti-Racist Movement, which is providing the defense for the 5, were on hand with information tables. (Videos from the night can be seen at One People's Project, a website for anti-fascist and anti-racism groups.)
- In August, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice and the Workers World Party sponsored a public forum, titled "Defend the Tinley Park 5—Fascism: What it is and how to fight it." Speakers included a member of the Tinley Park 5 Defense Committee and the Workers World Party youth organizer.
- The Support Fund for the Tinley Park 5 has set up a donation website for the Legal Defense Fund for the Tinley Park 5. So far, it has raised $7,651, with 461 days left to reach its $250,000 goal.
These efforts have not gone unnoticed by members of the Tinley Park 5. A letter written by Tucker was posted on the central website for the group. He thanked people for their support and painted a picture of himself and his fellow defendants for people "who are reading this with an open mind":
Just know, we are by no means the dark figures much as the media has made us out to be. We are sons and brothers, workers and students, salt of the earth, flesh-and-blood people like everyone else. Though not as sensational as many new programs and papers make us out to be we are just people (thankful people at that) for everything much of the populace has and continues to help us with.
It's a fascinating exercise to look at a local crime like this through outside eyes. How do they see the community through the spectrum of this attack? Does that view change your own on what happened?
At the very least, it's interesting to know that when decisions are made in this case, the headlines aren't being passed along in these circles like links to Honey Boo Boo videos.
More Stories on the Ashford House Attack:
- 'Ashford House 5' Plead Not Guilty to 185 Charges
- POLL: Should Lawyers Take Anti-Racists' Cases Pro Bono?
- Private Attorneys for 'Tinley Park 5' Express Sympathy for Anti-Racist Cause
- Off-Duty Sergeant Recalls Arresting 'Tinley Park 5' After Ashford House Attack
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