Protesters want the Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, to allow encampments of houseless people to persist in public parks. They point to Centers for Disease Control guidelines that call for allowing encampments to stay in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, if other individual housing options are not available.
Whether such options are available is a disputed point.
Monday’s action included as many as 80 people at its peak, which retraced the steps of around a dozen people the night before, from Seminary Park to Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s house. He lives in the Elm Heights neighborhood, south of the Indiana University campus, about a three-quarter mile walk from Seminary Park.
On Monday, the group continued from the mayor’s house to People’s Park on Kirkwood Avenue, where a teach-in was held, featuring speakers from Indiana University’s Rainbow Coalition, a relatively new coalition of multicultural groups on campus.
The night wrapped up around 11:30 p.m. as two houseless men pitched a tent at People’s Park, and protesters lined the sidewalk to form a wall against possible police action.
The order came in response to anti-police-brutality protests that have taken place nightly starting May 29.
The vote by commissioners to order enforcement came towards the end of their Wednesday meeting.
That meant the meeting was bookended with votes related to the protests. At the start of the meeting, commissioners took turns reading aloud a resolution on criminal justice reform, which they voted to adopt without deliberating further on it.
Among the “resolved” clauses of the ordinance is one that says commissioners “respectfully request the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department to continue to develop written policies which implement Eight Can’t Wait principles …”
On Friday, June 5, 2020, a peaceful protest against police brutality, organized by Black student leaders at Indiana University, wound its way from Dunn Meadow westward to the courthouse square. Demonstrators numbered in the thousands. Here’s a mosaic of images from the event, which was promoted with the slogan “Enough is Enough.” (Click on any image to enlarge and start a slideshow through the rest of the images.)
The killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women, has sparked protests across the country.
Floyd died on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him down with a knee-on-neck hold, an incident that was caught on video. Chauvin, who is white, has been fired and is now charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Locally, the initial reaction played out in the form of a demonstration Friday evening, when a group of around 150 protesters gathered at the southeast corner of the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington. The gathering looks like it was spurred by a more-or-less impromptu call to action on local social media websites.
Protesters eventually moved one block east from the intersection near the Alexander Memorial, to the corner anchored by The Tap. They later walked two blocks north. They wrapped up the roughly 90 minutes of protest in the middle of College Avenue, across from the Monroe County jail.
Five protesters who were arrested at Bloomington’s farmers market on Nov. 9 last year, will not be prosecuted for their actions, according to a statement issued Wednesday morning by Monroe County’s prosecutor. They had been given summonses for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
The protest got national attention in part because of the inflatable purple unicorn costume worn by one of the protestors.
In the statement from the prosecutor’s office, Monroe County’s prosecutor, Erika Oliphant, is quoted saying, “My office has evaluated the specific facts and circumstances surrounding these citations, and we have decided that it is appropriate to decline prosecution in this instance.”
The specific facts of the situation included protest activity—holding signs and loud singing inside the market vendor area—directed at the Schooner Creek Farm stand. The owners of Schooner Creek were identified by local activists earlier in the year as having ties to a white supremacist group.
Forrest Gillmore demonstrates at the farmers market on Nov. 9, 2019.
Thomas Westgard demonstrates at the farmers market on Nov. 9, 2019. Sarah Dye, the vendor against whom Westgard is protesting, captures the scene on her smart phone.
Forrest Gillmore, in his unicorn suit, is lead away by police officers on Nov. 9, 2019
Members of the farmers market advisory council at their meeting on Nov. 18, 2019.
Vauhxx Booker addresses the farmers market advisory council on Nov. 18.
At Monday’s meeting of the farmers market advisory council, held in Bloomington’s city council chambers, few answers about the future of the market could be gleaned from the group’s discussion. That’s partly because the group’s role is just advisory, to the city’s four-member board of park commissioners.
Department administrator for the parks and recreation department, Paula McDevitt, told the advisory council “[W]e do not have an announcement tonight about the future of the market…”
What makes the future uncertain has been a season of protests against a vendor with alignment to white-supremacist groups. The market was suspended for two weeks in late July amid concerns about possible violence.
At Monday’s meeting, the market’s coordinator, Marcia Veldman, said attendance was off by about half compared to previous years. The last couple of years, the market has seen around a quarter million visitors in the course of a season, according to the city of Bloomington’s data portal.
For several vendors, the timeframe for making a decision about whether sell at the market next year is short. Rebecca Vadas is a honey vendor who also sits on the farmers market advisory council. She said at Monday’s meeting that she had to make a decision by mid-December. One of the decisions she has to make is how many bees to buy. “We’re all at a crossroads,” she said.