Bloomington press conference on farmers market covers First Amendment, gun laws, possible exclusion of a vendor

After announcing on Monday (July 29) that Bloomington’s farmers market would be suspended for the next two Saturdays, Mayor John Hamilton held a press conference on Wednesday morning to address the situation.

Cropped Hamilton and Vendor 07.31.2019 IMG_9907 smaller copy
Left is Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton. Right is farmers market vendor for 34 years, Linda Chapman of  Harvest Moon Flower Farm. July 31, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Monday’s press release gave the general background for the market closure: “Since the recent public discussion of ties between a vendor at the market and white nationalist causes and groups, the City has identified increasing threats to public safety.”

The press release also hinted at more concrete reasons: “…[I]nformation gathered identifying threats of specific individuals with connections to past white nationalist violence, present the potential for future clashes.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, when Hamilton and the city’s chief of police, Mike Diekhoff, responded to questions from the press on the topic of threats, they didn’t provide additional details on the exact nature of the threats.

Hamilton said, “The threats were enough to identify particular individuals that meant to us, we saw a threat of violence in the market. And given the realities that I talked about, we felt it was critical for public safety to hit pause.”

Hamilton led off the press conference with about 15 minutes worth of prepared remarks, then fielded questions, first mostly from the press, then from others.

Hamilton’s prepared remarks framed the issue of public safety in terms of two challenges: (1) Indiana’s permissive gun laws; and (2) “a toxic stew of bigotry and hatred, of intolerance and divisiveness, that is being brewed by many, all across the country, including our own President.” Continue reading “Bloomington press conference on farmers market covers First Amendment, gun laws, possible exclusion of a vendor”