This is a pretty good critique of the events in Tinley Park a few weeks ago.
About one month back 15-20 masked antifascists stormed a white supremacist meeting at the Ashford House restaurant in Tinley Park, IL with weapons in hand and not only brought the meeting to an immediate end, but out of the 12 white supremacists in attendance, 10 were injured, many were hospitalized, 2 were arrested and several were DOX’d after the action. 5 of the alleged attackers were also arrested and are currently fighting charges.
Different variations of anti-racist activists from liberal to militant have voiced their opinions of the action (some silently and some not so silently) in terms of the approach and the outcome. The obvious critics saying that ” it did nothing for the cause” and even some more militant anti-fascists have raised the question “was it worth it in the end?”. The purpose of this article is to critically analyze the approach used by anti-fascists on May 19th in Tinley Park and to show why we see this action (and others alike), although no better than some other tactics at achieving direct goals, as one of the more effective, in terms of the massive long term damage done to fascist organizing and spirit.
Other less dangerous, yet still militant, tactics, like the ones employed at the attack on the MCL cafeteria in Indiana during Irving’s 2011 tour, the smoke bombing at the Hitler birthday celebration in Lyons, IL in 2011, or other preemptive attacks on individual organizers, can very well achieve the same immediate end and should typically be seen as the go-to tactics , as they better allow you to remain anonymous and at a more safe reach from the fascists and the state. We must always attempt to minimize injuries on on our side as they can be extremely hurtful to the work we are doing. Staying safe is always extremely important but we must be realistic; simply doing this work, at any level, puts us in a precarious and often unsafe position. The danger of fascist organizing or individuals should be taken seriously, but here and there, a genuine show of strength, courage and brute force is necessary. Especially when numbers permit. We can not, and will not, always toss rocks over picket fences at one another. Whether we, as antifascists, can agree on that statement or not, the lasting impact that actions like the battle of York, Baltimore, the battle of Pemberton in 2011, the 2009 campaign against David Irving and In Tinley Park last month, leave in the hearts and minds of the fascists, as well as anti-fascists, is undeniable.
These type of actions do more than simply end an event or meeting. The attack at the Ashford house has driven fear and paranoia into the white supremacists scene, especially those in attendance. It drove potentially talented white supremacists organizers out of commission and set an example of what can happen to any space or business hosting these type of events. Aside from the immense damage it dealt to their side, for us, it was inspirational and sparked a massive interest in militant anti-fascist work. At last, it created a platform for us to express to more mainstream audiences why we believe using direct action to fight against the fascists is necessary as it forced many non-radical folks to look for answers to the questions that were causing them such cognitive dissonance.
Imagine, after months of planning, several anarchists in your area, some you may know and some you may not, sit down at a table in some neutral space to have a discussion. Then, within minutes, you become trapped in a room filled with 20 masked white supremacists wielding weapons and injuring 70% of the attendees at this event. What kind of effect do you think this would have on us? How many people would drop out of “anarchist organizing”? Would folks blame others for the lack of security or even make snitch or informant accusations. Would people feel comfortable to ever go to another event and would the topic at hand be overshadowed, or distracted from, by the immense need for self protection. How would this type of attack differ from say a protest or phone calls to our host space? Had the event been attacked the night before, the host may have pulled the plug, but with some hurdle jumping and a few phone calls could we potentially continue the discussion with at least a portion of the crowd, at some other place, at some other time in the not so distant future? All the tactics mentioned above should not be dismissed, nor should they be considered ineffective, weak or less glamorous, especially the latter, but at the same time, think of the tremendous long lasting damage this type of full frontal assault would have on us and our supporters mentally. The fear, the sense of defeat and the disempowerment.
Since the Ashford attack, the predictable came true; Not only has the finger pointing and snitch jacketing amongst white supremacists began, but the lead organizer has alleged her retirement from her short lived activist career as a direct result of antifa harassment. The discourse taking place amongst a large number of white supremacists on stormfront no longer revolved around offensive organizing of any kind, but were now defensive, and centered around how to deal with us and how to protect themselves, and as long as we do our job right, this pondering should continue.
Setting a precedent:
Aside from the lasting impression on white supremacist individuals, this attack sets a fine example of what type of consequences you can expect from hosting such events.The next time David Irving, or any other white supremacists speaker or organization, reserves a space, simply reminding them of Irving’s tour in 2009, in which Edelweiss restaurant was damaged and then sued for a half a million dollars , hotels were barged into, and attendees were stabbed, should be enough to make them think twice. If not, this very incident in Tinley Park, the alleged 15,000 dollars in damages, loss of customers and bad reputation, will surely do the trick. It is just another addition to the list of reasons of why you should not support fascist organizing.
The arrests on our side:
The down side to the Ashford attack was the arrests made. Only so much critique can be laid down here. If those arrested were actually involved, only those who attended know what led them to be arrested and how, if at all, it can have been avoided. However, from the look of things from an outside perspective, the fact that there wasn’t a public call to confront the white supremacists yet there were 20 antifas there, the fact that the secret hosting location was discovered and that according to media reports the attack lasted under a minute, it doesn’t seem to be a matter of bad planning or lack of pre-emptive thought.
We believe that the outcome, in terms of the arrests, shouldn’t necessarily have any difference on the way we view this approach unless we see these arrests as an essential characteristic of such an approach. Had no one got arrested would some of the more militant advocates still hold such criticisms over the tactic used? It is also important to remember that, although it is always our goal to evade capture, our immediate goal as antifascists is to attack fascist organizing and shut down organizations and events, and in that it did.. and then some! If someone feels that in this particular case, the arrests weren’t worth the damage done to fascist organizing, they are entitled to that opinion. This opinion may or may not be commonly shared or popular, but it should not necessarily reflect negatively on the approach universally as much as in this particular case.
Clandestine yet visible:
Being anarchist antifascists we recognize that the state and capitalism are just as undesirable as the fascism we fight and that the law actively seeks to render us ineffective, the same way we do to the fascists. That being said, sometimes visions of antifa crews that allow everyone and anyone to participate with no hesitation can be utopian and naive. Depending on a given antifa crews methods, this type of approach can be detrimental. This doesn’t mean that anti-fascism should be specialized or left to professionals. The difficulty within ARA and antifa work is just that; we want this war to be inclusive (or at least more visible and less specialized) yet we want it to be secure and impenetrable for those of us who participate. To a certain degree, this action met all standards; a quietly organized group of folks achieved an end, while also reaching out to several thousands of people not already involved in antifa work and said, “Do the damn thing, and this is how!”
If you look close enough, and stop waiting to read public call outs by fascists, you will realize that fascist organizing is happening quite often and generally in secret. If we constantly used the tactic used at Ashford house a great majority of us would likely burn out, or be in jail. It is not that we believe that arrests are unavoidable in this type of approach, but the visibility and large number of people engaging in illegal activity in a single area do make it a little harder to evade capture. Tactics we use should be dependent on the situation. Their numbers, the type of location, the type of group were dealing with and their organizational strategy etc. We should remain inventive and have multiple forms of attack. We should attempt to use tactics that better guarantee we will be around to fight another day
It is absolutely important when you start doing antifascists work to strategize. Analyze what is happening around you and what you think might work best in your situation. But only so much strategy can be developed without action. Spending far too long strategizing, fearing and remaining in a defensive mindset without action will get you nowhere. We must instigate. They hide from us, not the other way around. The best way to further develop your strategy is to create action and document your experience.
Be smart, and be secure, but be fearless fucking tigers. Some of them are willing to go the distance..are we?
Mad solidarity to the Tinley Park 5 and all those fighting against the state, capitalism and the fascists!
Their world is shit and our dreams are beautiful!