A group of masked radicals is accused of brutally attacking alleged white supremacists eating lunch at a restaurant in a suburb of Chicago, and the town’s mayor is calling the melee a bizarre and bloody spillover of the NATO Summit.
Tinley Park Mayor Edward J. Zabrocki said as many as 18 people wearing masks and black hoods stormed into the Ashford House in Tinley Park on Saturday, pummeling a group of alleged white supremacists who had gathered at the Irish-American eatery known for its corned beef and bacon.
Zabrocki said he believed the group of assailants had come into town from Indiana to participate in the protests at the NATO Summit, but instead headed to his town to pick a fight. Tinley Park is about 30 miles southwest of Chicago.
“This was a real riot,” Zabrocki told msnbc.com on Monday. “These guys started beating the crap out of the other group. A lot of tables were knocked over, dishes were broken and there was food all over the walls. It was terrible. It was a mess.”
Zabrocki said five members of the group were arrested; 13 others were still being sought.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Tinley Park Police Chief Steve Neubauer said five men were charged with aggravated battery, mob action and criminal damage to property. The group included three brothers, Jason W. Sutherlin, 33, of Gosport, Ind.; Cody Lee Edward Sutherlin, 23, of Bloomington, Ind.; and Dylan James Sutherlin, 20, also of of Bloomington. Alex R. Stuck, 22, of Bloomington, and James S. Tucker, 26, of Spencer, Ind., were also charged, the Tribune reported.
Nine people were injured and three people were hospitalized, Zabrocki said. He said victims' conditions had improved since the attacks.
The mayor said he believed the victims had ties to white supremacist groups, but he could not confirm their affiliation.
Zabrocki said the Anti-Racist Action, an organization that says it protests "fascist and neo-Nazi activities," claimed responsibility and posted its reasoning on its website.
According to the Anti-Racist Action website:
“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.”
Zabrocki said city and police officials had been on alert on Saturday and Sunday because of demonstrations at the NATO Summit in Chicago. He said quick action by police helped law enforcement collar at least five of the suspects.
“We believe that the same group of attackers had been in town for the summit and if they had not been in town, they wouldn't have found this group,” he said.
Michael Winston, owner of the Ashford House, said the group that was attacked had made a reservation for up to 20, saying they were from an Irish heritage association.
"We had no idea who these people were," Winston said. "We don’t ask for people’s political stuff when they come in the door. Did they look like white supremacists? One or two did, but just because they have a shaved head doesn’t mean they’re a skinhead, right? I know a lot of good-looking guys who have their heads shaved and they aren’t skinheads or white supremacists. And the group that stormed in, it was too fast and too late. It took us by surprise.
“The other group marched into the restaurant, all were in hooded sweatshirts,” Winston told msnbc.com. “Each had a chair leg, baton or a bat. They came in and went straight to a table of white guys and whoever stood up or got in the way, they got walloped.”
He said business inside Ashford House has taken a blow from the weekend violence.
"It was a ghost town in here on Sunday,” Winston said. He said customers have been afraid to come in and others have canceled their reservations. He said a few loyal patrons have stopped by to see if everything was OK.
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