Monroe County commissioners order sheriff to enforce laws on courthouse lawn curfew, camping

An executive order from Monroe County’s three-member board of county commissioners, adopted at their regular Wednesday meeting, directs the sheriff to enforce two existing ordinances regulating how the courthouse grounds are used.

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Monroe County’s sheriff Brad Swain (right) and a deputy next to the Alexander Memorial at the southeast corner of the courthouse square around 2:15 a.m. on June 10, 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

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 …”

Protests nationwide and locally were prompted by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women. Floyd was killed on May 25 by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, when the police officer pinned Floyd down with a knee-on-neck hold, a scene that was caught on video. Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners order sheriff to enforce laws on courthouse lawn curfew, camping”

Photos: “Enough is Enough”

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.)

Photos: June 5, 2020

 

Police killing of Black man in Minneapolis sparks protest in Bloomington, Indiana; march and call for action planned for next week by others

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Protesters take a knee in the middle of College Avenue next to the Monroe County jail on Friday evening and observe “seven minutes of silence.” The seven-minute period was chosen to match early media reports of the timespan during which the Minneapolis police officer had pinned his knee on George Floyd’s neck, which killed the 46-year-old Black man. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

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 west 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.

An event scheduled for next Friday, June 5, led by Indiana University Black student leaders Selena Drake and Salina Tesfagiorgis, is planned to start at Dunn Meadow, and make its way to the courthouse. Drake is studying law and public policy. Tesfagiorgis is a masters student at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Continue reading “Police killing of Black man in Minneapolis sparks protest in Bloomington, Indiana; march and call for action planned for next week by others”

No charges for protestors at Bloomington farmers market, says Monroe County prosecutor

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.

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Flanked by two Bloomington police officers on Nov. 9, 2019, after his arrest at the farmers market for a protest against white supremacy, is Forrest Gilmore wearing a purple unicorn costume. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

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.

In late July last year, one protestor was arrested for similar activity—holding a sign near the Schooner Creek Farm stand. That protestor was also not prosecuted. Continue reading “No charges for protestors at Bloomington farmers market, says Monroe County prosecutor”

Focus of Bloomington’s “fragile” farmers market in 2020: Decisions on time, manner and place

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Bloomington’s farmers market advisory council (FMTAC) takes a vote Monday night on a recommendation that the percentage of gross sales that food and beverage artisans pay to the market be reduced from 10 to 5 percent in 2020, with a goal of establishing a fixed fee on par with that paid by farm vendors. FMTAC did not take a vote for or against privatization of the market. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

On Jan. 9 next year, Bloomington’s board of park commissioners will make a decision about the future of the city-sponsored market, which last year featured 121 farm vendors and 17 food and beverage artisans. Continue reading “Focus of Bloomington’s “fragile” farmers market in 2020: Decisions on time, manner and place”

Uncertain future for Bloomington farmers market, still no decision on charges against protestors

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.

Bruce McCallister, who chaired Monday’s meeting, said after meeting with vendors and listening to them, “My takeaway was there are a lot of people really hurting [financially and personally] from this season and a sense of urgency to try and address that before next year.” Continue reading “Uncertain future for Bloomington farmers market, still no decision on charges against protestors”