[Pnews] Anti-fascist Jason Hammond sentenced 3.5 years for Tinley Park action

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 23 11:39:02 EST 2015

  Anti-fascist Jason Hammond sentenced 3.5 years for Tinley Park action

January 23, 2015

* *I write this statement after pleading guilty to state charges against 
me for my participation in an organized direct action taken against a 
group of white supremacists in May of 2012. I would like to share my 
thoughts about this action. First, major thanks and love to my friends 
and family who have supported me, for my amazing partner who kept me 
sane, my band for letting loose and my lawyer Sara Garber who has been 
ridiculously helpful in fighting this case with me.*

While Chicago was in rebellion against the western military 
super-alliance NATO summit in 2012, a small group of racists organized 
their own ‘white nationalist economic summit' in the nearby suburb of 
Tinley Park. They booked a restaurant to hold a luncheon under the guise 
of the "Illinois European Heritage Association.” For over six months 
this event was promoted on Stormfront.org, a very popular online forum 
where racists and neo-nazis converse. Being in a prolonged state of 
resistance against racism, this summit became known to 
organized anti-fascists throughout the Midwest. Through research, they 
had ascertained the time, location, and even some identities of the 
attendees of this meeting, some of whom were already known as being 
members of white supremacist groups such as the KKK, National Socialist 
Movement and Council of Conservative Citizens. Upon becoming aware of 
this  information, myself and others decided to confront the fascists at 
their meeting. A righteous melee ensued, many of the ten white 
supremacists were injured, and we left the scene in less than two minutes.

In the aftermath, the police was called and two of the fascist attendees 
were arrested one for being a fugitive of pedophilia charges in another 
state and the other for illegal possession of firearms in their car 
onsite. Unfortunately after leaving the restaurant, five comrades from 
Hoosier Anti Racist Movement were also arrested for their involvement by 
an off duty cop. They are known as the Tinley Park 5, all of whom spent 
time in Illinois prisons after taking a non-cooperative plea, and have 
since been released on parole. Please read about their struggles at 
their wordpress. <https://tinleyparkfive.wordpress.com/>

A year after the action, in July 2013, I was arrested outside my home by 
the FBI and Tinley Park Police. I was charged with armed violence and 
mob action,  the same as the other 5 anti-fascists. My indictment states 
the Tinley Park Police were given a report from the FBI stating that 
they had identified me from DNA gathered at the scene and a surveillance 
video from the restaurant where the meeting was shut down. I was held in 
Cook County Jail for two months but was fortunate to have friends who 
raised enough money to release me on bond. I have since been fighting 
these charges. The wheels of the bureaucratic judicial system moves 
deliberately slow and another whole year and a half passes. Now, even 
with the privilege of being able to examine all the evidence and 
evaluate all of my options while out on bond, I must accept the judge’s 
offer of 3.5 years. My chances of winning the case were very low, and if 
I lost, it could potentially mean a significantly higher sentence.

It is difficult to decide whether to plea or not when faced with 
gambling years of your life in prison, but I also completely detest the 
narrative of the state and their courtrooms. Their story is that they 
rightfully apprehended the criminal, tried, and put them away in 
prison;where they will learn not to do it again while separated from 
society where they cannot spread their infectious ideas. That system 
does not work and it never will. I abhor this monopoly of justice and 
violence; the reality is that the state wants people in their prisons 
especially people whose political interest are in conflict  to the 
“business as usual” violence that their police and armies perpetrate. My 
crime is standing up against the flag of hate and the violence against 
people of color that it represents. The state, in a petty act, went out 
of their way years later to prosecute me.

Furthermore, the state has always supported a white supremacist power 
structure. Even after the endless series of racist wars and hundreds of 
years of oppression on this soil, they don't see it as a problem when 
neo-nazis get together and in fact grant permits and have lines of 
police to protect their free speech. In Ferguson, New York, Chicago and 
beyond, we see police use military grade equipment in conjunction with 
the National Guard to combat people protesting the unjust murders of 
Mike Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement. These are 
not isolated incidents, but rather symptomatic and indicative of a 
deliberate move to uphold the pillars of white supremacy in this 
country, which will not change unless we fight against it.

I went into this action following the principles of anarchy, equality 
and freedom which have guided my life. For many years I have been 
involved in different projects engaging social justice, from 
volunteering at social centers, community public libraries and 
food distribution programs.I have also supported and participated 
in anti-war, environmental and immigrant rights movements. Through these 
experiences I became more aware of how the system that governs this 
society depends on the mass exploitation of large parts of the 
population and in fact the Earth itself for the profit of the rich and 
powerful. I was inspired and motivated by the people I met in the 
movement to strive to make change at the root of the problem, even if it 
meant possibly sacrificing my own personal freedom. Throughout history, 
any movement that struggled to change this system was considered 
dangerous by the government and was met with immense repression and 
state violence. But there were successful moments within these movements 
not only because they were justified, but because people fought for them 
and despite how history is presented like a Disney movie, not all of 
their actions were non-violent.

Today there still is police brutality, a massive prison industrial 
complex, there are presidents waging endless wars for profit and power, 
and there is violence, alienation and marginalization at the crossroads 
of gender, sexuality, race and class.  It would be naive to think that 
all of these problems could only be solved through pacifism; working 
with or within the system, following dogmatic and assimilative reformist 
agendas that take over and sell out movements; the answer lies in 
creative resistance that utilizes a wide diversity of tactics. I think 
some people have always known this but more need to reject the 
privileged tendency to reject destruction of property, or of the bodies 
protecting the state as taboo violence instead of as a legitimate form 
of resistance. As our collective patience is constantly being worn away 
by failures of government to address people’s actual needs, it is up to 
our own communities and individuals to decide for themselves what is an 
appropriate form of self-defense

But I would also like to note that the hyper-spectacularization and 
priority of violence amongst folks in the movement might also be folly, 
because I believe it in itself is not sufficient for a real radical 
transformation of society. People need to look within to make the change 
they want to see in the world as well as raise hell in the streets. 
People are improving their communities through their own support, 
healing circles, discussion groups, rallies, speak-outs, prisoner 
support, popular education, community health projects and asking hard 
questions and challenging oppressive thoughts however they manifest.

The ideas and actions that these white supremacists are pushing are 
dangerous and poisonous and is unfortunately still deeply rooted within 
the fabric of this society. Racism manifests itself in a number of ways 
and none can be ignored; from the blatant and overt bigots like those at 
the meeting in Tinley Park but also the subtle micro-aggressions that 
people experience on a daily basis. We are all obligated to confront the 
dead old ways of these oppressive ideologies using every means possible. 
My actions were in the spirit of continued resistance against racism and 
fascism and for the rights of people to live without fear of racist 
attacks. Those in struggle know the risk of jail, pain or death when 
trying to radically change the structure of society but it is a struggle 
we cannot ignore and we intend to win!

After the interruption of the meeting in Tinley Park, the organizing 
group for their economic summit disbanded and the individual who booked 
the event said that they were “stepping away from white nationalist 
organizing.” When a comrade is arrested the movement bears a high cost 
but actions like these can prove affective as they dissuade people from 
joining hate groups and preventing the work that they do. I feel these 
tactics could also apply to different avenues of struggle, directed 
towards exploitative bosses, racist cops, gentrifying landlords, sexists 
anywhere, and fascist politicians.

Some people have speculated my arrest was part of some revenge plot of 
the FBI because of the hacking and whistle-blowing my brother Jeremy 
Hammond has done against various sectors of the government and the 
private intelligent corporations they work with. While I love and 
support my brother and his actions 1000% and condemn the FBI and the US 
government for their own cyber wars they wage, I think it is unlikely 
that was the reason why I was held in custody. As stated earlier, the 
FBI did provide a report to the local police putting some of their 
pieces together which raises questions to why they would consider a 
bunch of neo-nazis getting beat up a matter of national security. 
Regardless, my brother and I were both apprehended because our actions 
were not carried out with absolute precision and every precaution made 
to disguise our identities and ensure we would not be busted.

However, it is absolutely true that we live in a vulnerable society with 
extreme governmental overreach, where anyone could be subject 
to surveillance, entrapment, targeted prosecutions and trumped up 
treason and terrorism charges purely for ideological reasons. It is a 
context deliberately cooked up by politicians and the national security 
complex to create fear and distrust amongst activist circles, as we can 
see looking at the huge number of dissidents who have been jailed or 
killed. Again, I’ll state my respect for political prisoners in any 
country who are staying strong and struggling to fight the power. I 
would encourage anyone who considers taking direct action to know why 
they are doing it and do so carefully as to not jeopardize themselves, 
their comrades, or the movement itself. A person in prison is another 
person we have to free.

        To those whose worlds were shaken and who are angry or 
displeased at my actions, remind yourselves humbly of the atrocious 
history of violence that white supremacy has done and continues to do so 
to this  society and ask yourself, do I support it? Do I benefit from 
it? Will this be my legacy? Or do I want to change it?

I have set up a blog where I will post updates regularly that will also 
include my mailing address and visiting hours. Also I will have set up 
an Amazon Wish List where people can send me some love through books. 
This will be set up once I arrive at the state prison where I will 
likely carry out the majority of my sentence. While I am here I intend 
to make the most of my time staying positive and motivated through 
reading, working out, and meditating. I am interested in continuing 
communication and having discussions with people through letters, so 
please write me when you have the chance.

*Yours for the struggle!*
*With love and rage,*
*Jason Hammond*
* *freejasonhammond.blogspot.com*
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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