A group of 18 so-called “anti-racists” clad in black, with bandannas over their faces and wielding steel batons and hammers and possibly baseball bats and nunchucks, stormed a Chicago-area family restaurant this past weekend and allegedly attacked a group of self-professed “white nationalists” who were having a lunch meeting there, FOX Chicago reports. Ten people were injured and at least three required treatment for head wounds.
The attack happened at approximately 12:45 Saturday afternoon at the Ashford House Restaurant in Tinley Park, Ill., a suburb about 30 miles south of Chicago. Surveillance cameras inside the restaurant recorded parts of the fracas.
“You see the door opens up, these 15, 18 people walk in. They’ve got hoods on, they’ve got masks on,” Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki told ABC News about the video. “You see tables moving into view, food spilling on the floor. You see them marching out and you see some of the waiters taking swings at them.”
Police apprehended five of the alleged attackers, who claim to be members of a group called the South Side Chicago Anti-Racist Action which is apparently connected to the larger Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement (H.A.R.M.), according to FOX Chicago. The group was founded in 2009 and claims to be “dedicated to fighting fascism by any means necessary.”
The victims of the attack are members of the Illinois European Heritage Association, a group connected to the “White Nationalist Community” known as Stormfront. The community was founded in the 1990s by former Ku Klux Klan leader Don Black.
ABC reports that the Heritage Association members were at the restaurant holding their “5th Annual White Nationalist Economic Summit” when they were attacked.
Spokespersons for Ashford House say that neither group has any connection to the restaurant and that they have no idea why they chose to hold their meeting there.
Ashford House owner Mike Winston told the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes the attack was not random and that the group of masked attackers knew just who they were after. Police officials agree.
A witness told FOX Chicago that the all-white group of attackers gathered in the parking lot before the melee. He said there was a mix of men and women and that they loudly chanted political slogans before streaming into the restaurant.
The restaurant suffered $15,000 in damage, and Winston was among the injured. He was the only restaurant employee to sustain injuries.
The South Side ARA website is calling for funds to help pay for bail and legal defense for the five attackers who were apprehended, whom they’ve dubbed the “Ashford House Five.” Despite the contrary reports and their efforts to raise bail money, the group is not claiming responsibility for or involvement in the attacks.
Several posters on the Stormfront message board have called the Anti-Racist Action group “terrorists” and have begun informing WePay.com, the payment collection service the ARA is using to gather funding for their bail efforts, that the group is attempting to use their site to fund “known terrorists” and “terroristic actions.”
Zabrocki tells ABC that he has no sympathy for the attackers or the attacked — he only feels bad for his city.
“This is going to cost us a bundle … to our town and a bunch of other towns that responded for you know, a bunch of idiots,” he said. “And I’m referring to both sides.”