This is the body of a flyer (PDF: Charlottesville text) distributed at yesterday’s vigil, called by Indivisible Bloomington (a front for the Democratic Party). The organizers of the vigil hoped to recuperate the tragedy of Heather Heyer’s murder into votes for the Democratic Party. Much of the crowd openly found this distasteful, leading many to leave early, while others called for a breakaway demonstration towards the end of the evening.
We find this text to be a potent criticism of Indivisible’s craven politicking:
We cannot separate yesterday’s murder from the structure of white-supremacist power in the United States. The police, the judges, the politicians have for the entirety of this nation’s history grounded their political base in the violent suppression and exploitation of people of color. Only now, when it has become politically opportune, have the Democrats and reformers made any effort to express their supposed opposition to alt-right and neo-nazi mobilization. But where was their outrage when the Traditionalist Youth Network was forming itself right here in Bloomington? Where were they when motorists were threatening and on numerous actions attempting to drive through peaceful demonstrations on these very streets?
Refining laws and electing politicians cannot dismantle white supremacy. The way to Honor Heather Heyer is to live as she died, fighting. It’s easier to attend SURJ meetings, finally cut your dreadlocks, and check off your daily call-a-congressman, than to struggle to materially, actually dismantle a centuries-old system of white power. With neo-nazis now openly marching and murdering leftists, let’s not get distracted with individual gestures of allyship, attending vigils to express abstract “solidarity”, or with electing one more Democrat, Republican, or “independent” who professionally pretends to solve the problem for us.
The truth is that the terrorist violence in Charlottesville did not magically appear out of nowhere. Fascists like the neo-nazis marching in Charlottesville, or the back-to-the-land white supremacists down in Paoli (that the Herald Times so enthusiastically promoted), do not appear out of nowhere. They are a paramilitary force, working on the same project of white power as Trump and the Fraternal Order of Police that endorsed him. You don’t have to look as far as Charlottesville to see the violence of white supremacy in action. To be fair, focus is hard. It’s difficult to train your eye on what’s important in life, especially when there are distracting, easy answers at hand.
Politicians and their local “organizer” allies know this, and their game (of thrones) is one of redirection. But if we take the question of fighting white supremacy seriously enough to take the time to refocus, it’s clear that there is plenty of work to be done right here, at our fingertips.
The Bloomington Police Department plays their PR game carefully. But even then, it’s a very thin veil over their classist and racist violence. It’s not a coincidence that the largest anti-racist movement in recent history, the Black Lives Matter movement, focused on dismantling the power of the police. It’s not a coincidence that it was a police officer in an unmarked car who was most recently threatened a peaceful Bloomington demonstration outside the jail (in defense of recently arrested homeless neighbors and friends). The BPD and Monroe County Jail have a recent and decades-old history of violence against people of color and the socio-economically excluded in Bloomington. It’s time to look at the whole system which perpetuates white supremacy, which includes BPD, and fight back.
While private security and cops from three different agencies were locking down and surrounding Franklin Hall on Tuesday night in defense of “scientist” and writer Charles Murray (who spews all manner of racist, misogynist, and oppressive ideas and “research”) and hundreds of Indiana University students, faculty, and others were gathered for a protest, we went to IU professor Aurelian Craiutu’s office to glue the locks and paint an anti-racist message.
Aurelian is the head of the Tocqueville Program – part of the Political Science Department – that invited Murray to speak at IU in order to explore, he said, the “Trump phenomenon.” Whatever the reason for the invitation, we abhor it. While we have no faith in the university, we do think that public figures like Charles Murray and the institutions and people who support him should be confronted. But those confrontations do not always have to take place on terrain that is presented to us. We don’t have to wait until a profiteering racist shows up on campus…or remain within the police barricades. While public opposition can be important, there is much that can be done when one is not surrounded on all sides by rows of police and cell phone cameras. Nor must we remain within the ideological terrain of the institutions regarding civility and the sanctity of property. Outrage at small acts of vandalism is laughable alongside the experience of so many students and others who are just now losing trust in the university that they expected to protect them. But now the interests and character of IU are made clear.
Shout out to all those who stood up against Murray, his supporters, and the massive police force assembled to protect him. Our anger didn’t subside when Murray was escorted off campus. One can move rather freely through many parts of campus. Glue is cheap. Let’s be creative.
Hundreds demonstrated against Islamophobia last week, after a racist attack in downtown Bloomington. More coverage from the IDS: Stand Up, Fight Back.
Demonstrators confronted fascists on IU’s campus and in downtown Bloomington earlier this evening. At least one antifascist demonstrator was snatched by police. Please send more detailed accounts or communiques our way. Photos from idsnews.com.
Printable flyer: Against Racism in Indiana’s Prisons
Calling all prison reform and prisoner justice activists in Indiana!
Join us in *downtown Indianapolis on September the 8th at 11am-1pm* to protest the Indiana Department of Corrections new policy of mail censorship and outright refusal of black empowerment/black liberation materials and their continued harassment of long time politically active black prisoners. These people have put their lives on the line for decades fighting for justice and humanity behind the prison walls; we must do what we can to support them and let the IDOC know that they can’t act with impunity. We are watching their every move!
Meet downtown in Indianapolis in front of the IDOC headquarters at 302 W Washington St. We’ll have banners and signs, but feel free to bring your own and/or bring noise makers. If you’re in need of a ride from Bloomington, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with drivers. See you there!
RACISM IN INDIANA’S PRISONS MUST BE STOPPED
The Indiana Department of Corrections is taking cruel and racist actions in a number of their prisons.
A New Afrikan prisoner was recently transferred from New Castle (because of their intolerance of his political organizing) to Pendleton, where Internal Affairs are seeking revenge on him for past political organizing. He is being threatened with state court for alleged weapons possession, while many members of the Aryan Brotherhood have recently been caught with upwards of 5 knives each and been only lightly penalized by comparison.
Another prisoner at New Castle dared to organize against the for-profit prison’s lack of transitional programming and transfer-to-population opportunities. For this, he was transferred back to the Secure Housing Unit, where he’s now indefinitely locked up in solitary confinement.
These men are clearly being targeted and excessively punished by a chauvinist administration which allows racist groups to form and thrive within their walls while snuffing out any and all sparks of radical organizing.
New Castle’s mailroom is another venue for racism and subjugation; it’s standard procedure for them to throw away or deny prisoners access to anything of an explicitly political/revolutionary nature, as well as anything related to black liberation and/or black empowerment. This blatantly racist repression will not be tolerated!
Additionally, Pendleton recently implemented a ludicrous new policy regarding the books prisoners are allowed to receive: they’re currently accepting publications from only three bookstores, two of which are religious (one Christian, one Islamic). This is obviously a move to stifle political action, as radical reading materials are invaluable in fostering connections between prisoners and enabling political organizing in an isolating environment.
Monday, September 8th, join us in protest: call in to the DOC office to demand that they abolish the stifling of radical politics/black empowerment through mailroom censorship, and allow inmates to receive books from any publisher they choose.
DOC central office: #(317) 233-6984
Pendleton mailroom supervisor: #(765) 778-2107 extn.1264
Boxcar Books opened on Monday at 9am. Several dozen people spent the morning at Boxcar writing letters to prisoners, sharing food, and making signs reading “Bloomington is for queers” and “Immigrants welcome here”. Students visiting Boxcar to pick up textbooks on the first day of classes were alerted that racist organizing is happening at IU and a great number of people called, messaged, or came by Boxcar throughout the day to offer their support. Banners against fascism were dropped on campus and downtown.
Around 2pm, four xenophobic chauvinists arrived at Boxcar chanting, “racist, fascist, anti-gay, Trad Youth will not go away”. Three of the miscreants were recognized by counter-protesters as folks from the local area including Thomas “Bullshit” Buhls, KKK Klansman. They were joined by Matt Heimbach, co-founder of TYN. About 80 counter-protesters challenged the TYN’s racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-semitic rhetoric. The group was surrounded on all sides, sprayed with a garden hose, duct tape lassoed, condom-bombed with water-filled condomns, and pelted with “the people’s apples” as they ran away after about a 30 minute barraging.
Monday’s counter-protest was a remarkable showing of individuals in solidarity against racism and white supremacy. Though Boxcar Books was targeted for today’s particular action, this was never a singular threat against Boxcar or MWPP but rather an assault on the safety of all.
While retreating, wet and defeated, TYN members announced that they would be back shouting, “expect us again!”
White supremacists, EXPECT RESISTANCE.
On January 4, 2013 all members of the Tinley Park Five accepted a non-cooperating plea bargain in which they each plead guilty to three felony counts of Armed Violence in exchange for “lenient” sentences and the guarantee of ‘day-for-day’ good behavior. Jason Sutherlin was sentenced to 6 years. Cody Lee Sutherlin and Dylan Sutherlin were sentenced to 5 years. Alex Stuck and John Tucker were sentenced to 3 1/2 years due to their youth and complete lack of criminal history. Each will be placed upon two years of supervised release upon release from prison.
Before the plea was accepted, the State offered the Tinley Park Five one last chance to betray their comrades in exchange for their freedom. What a waste of time! As anarchist and antifascists, the Tinley Park Five are no more capable of selling out the struggle than their broken system is capable of reforming itself! They laughed at the offer and bravely accepted their fate.
Credit was given for the 7 months already served in Cook County. They will receive ’day-for-day’ good time credit which effectively cuts the sentences in half. The state of Illinois also offers several programs and classes which can chip away at sentences. Optimistically, Alex and John could be out before Christmas 2013. Dylan and Cody could be out my Autumn 2014. Jason could be out by Christmas 2014. This is all hypothetical and highly speculative of course.
On Monday January 7th, the Tinley Park Five will be transferred to Stateville for between one and three weeks. There the Illinois Department of Corrections will decide where they will spend the duration of their sentences. Until this decision is reached PLEASE HOLD ALL MAIL. If you wish to donate to the Tinley Park Five at this time we ask that you use WePay rather than money orders at this time, as we’re concerned that they will get lost or delayed as the Tinley Park Five are being transferred between facilities. We’re working on trying to quickly raise as much money as possible to ease this transition.
Make no mistake, it is with great sorrow that we accept just how long we’ll be separated from our dear friends, but they will not be forgotten nor will their struggle cease in their absence. This support crew will continue to advocate for each of them in whatever they decide to do until every last one of them is free. Communiques from several members of the Tinley Park Five to their supporters are expected soon and will be posted on this website.
The Tinley Park Five as well as their supporters, comrades, family, and friends would like to thank Aaron Goldstein, Sara Garber, Brian Barrido, James Fennerty, Stuart Smith, Matthew Dodge, and everyone else who assisted in their legal defense. They would also like to thank the National Lawyer’s Guild for connecting these attorneys with the Tinley Park Five as well as the People’s Law Office for consulting with us in the initial stages of this ordeal.
The Tinley Park Five also wanted to thank Chicago Anarchist Black Cross as well as South Side for their help in bringing people out to their most recent court appearance. Seeing so many supporters meant more than you could know to them. Thanks to everyone who was able to make it. Thanks to everyone on the interwebz for helping to get the word out about it so well.
I was able to speak with Jason this morning and Alex last night and both of them asked that there be a public acknowledgement of all the groups who have humbled us with their support thus far. Thanks to Denver ABC, Salt Lake City ABC, New York City ABC, Rose City Antifa, Southside Chicago Anti-Racist Action, Philly ARA, Lafayette HARM, Circle City ARA, One People’s Project, Bursts-o-Goodness, Political Fail Blog, Sacramento Prisoner Support, M1AA, IWW, VICE, Worker’s World (especially NYC and Detroit affiliates), the Btown crew, as well as anyone who’s attended a letter-writing party, a court date, or came to visit. Thanks to the countless organizations that I apologize in advance for forgetting to mention.
Thanks to all of you Anonymous gangsters that had our backs with #opStormfrontRaid. Dirty South, whoever you are, you’re a life-saver, literally. Thanks to anyone who has stepped up in any way they could whether that be sharing a link or donating a couple dollars.
Thanks to everyone that has helped, but please don’t forget… the Tinley Park Five aren’t going to be in the news headlines as often but they are still going to need just as much support. We ask that you not forget about the Tinley Park Five! Please keep the benefit shows, letter-writing parties, and other acts of solidarity coming as they’re needed now as much as ever.
We’ll leave you with this quote, nearly a century old, which still rings just as true today:
“Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” – Eugene Debs 1918
Yours in Solidarity,
Tinley Park Five and Support Crew