Tinley Park Five accept non-cooperating plea bargain

Excerpts from a Jan. 4 article posted by the Tinley Park Five and support crew at tinyurl.com/bj8rp8h.  The Tinley Park Five are white anti-racist and anti-fascist activists who were arrested last May 19 for allegedly breaking up a fascist gathering of the Illinois European Heritage Association at a restaurant in Tinley Park, Ill.  Go to workers.org to read more on this case.  

On Jan. 4, all members of the Tinley Park Five accepted a non-cooperating plea bargain in which they each pleaded 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 six years. Cody Lee Sutherlin and Dylan Sutherlin were sentenced to five years. Alex Stuck and John Tucker were sentenced to three and a half 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 anarchists and anti-fascists, 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 seven 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 by autumn 2014. Jason could be out by Christmas 2014. This is all hypothetical and highly speculative of course.

On Jan. 7, the Tinley Park Five were 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 the Tinley Park Five to their supporters are expected soon and will be posted on this website.

The Tinley Park Five would like to thank everyone else who assisted in their legal defense. They would also like to thank the National Lawyer’s Guild as well as the People’s Law Office for consulting 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.

Jason and Alex asked that there be a public acknowledgement of all the groups who have humbled us with their support thus far.

Thanks to Rose City Antifa, Southside Chicago Anti-Racist Action, Philly ARA, Lafayette HARM [Hoosiers Anti-Racist Movement], Circle City ARA, One People’s Project, Bursts-o-Goodness, Political Fail Blog, Sacramento Prisoner Support, M1AA, IWW, VICE, Workers 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.

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. 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