Consideration of the ordinance could be a chance for the city council and the community to review an episode from Bloomington’s restaurant industry in 1950, which was described this way in a World-Telephone article: “Downtown Bloomington restaurants, closed this week in protest of a campaign to force them to serve Negroes, are to be reopened for business beginning on Thursday of this week, serving customers of all colors.”
The building at 424 1/2 S. Walnut is probably best known for the most recent business that was housed there, which was The Player’s Pub.
Part of the argument for the property’s historic designation is the building’s connection to Henry Boxman, who operated the place as Boxman’s Restaurant” for nearly three decades, from 1929 to 1958.
One of the possible criteria that can qualify a building for historic designation is its association “with a person who played a significant role in local, state, or national history.”
Boxman is described in the report prepared by Conor Herterich, the city’s historic preservation program manager, as “one of Bloomington’s greatest restaurateurs,” who helped found the Indiana Restaurant Association and re-established the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, among other achievements.
Not a part of the report prepared by Herterich is an analysis of where, if anywhere, Boxman’s Restaurant might have fit into the segregationist history of Bloomington’s downtown restaurant scene of the 1950s.
At its Monday night meeting, the farmers market advisory council (FMAC) voted to disband the broadening inclusion group (BIG), after seven of BIG’s nine members had already resigned.
Their resignations came after a post on Facebook made by the group, which included the statement, “Our hearts break for every lost, angry, and aimless young black man and woman who commit violent crimes and claim the lives of other black men, black women, and black children—their lives matter.” The statement was denounced as racist by several hundred commenters.
Monday nights FMAC vote to disband the BIG was 6–1, with two absences, which were caused in part by audio difficulties that made parts of the meeting, conducted on the Zoom videoconferencing platform, difficult to follow.
What are the next steps after the vote to disband the BIG?
Responding to an emailed question from The Square Beacon, Paula McDevitt, Bloomington’s director of parks and recreation, said staff will be reviewing the FMAC chat and transcript of the recorded comments. “We will share them with the board of park commissioners,” McDevitt said.
On Thursday, the city of Bloomington used a seven-day out clause in its contract with Ken’s Westside Service and Towing to terminate its contract with the company for public tows. Those are tows that are requested by city police, not private property owners.
The company could still eventually be licensed by the city to do private tows, under the city’s new program regulating companies who do such work.
Termination of the contract for public tows was the city’s response to a self-recorded video of a racist statement posted online by the owner’s son, commenting on the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in late May. In the video, the son says: “That officer did us a favor… Ya’ll can hate me, do whatever…” In the video he’s wearing the company’s uniform shirt—he was an employee.
The officer to which the remark referred was Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who on May 25 pinned Floyd down with a knee-on-neck hold for about nine-minutes, killing him, a scene that was caught on video. It was the event that prompted nationwide protests against police brutality, including the local Enough is Enough march last week and the BLM-sponsored Black Against the Wall Facebook discussion.
On a 9–0 vote Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council approved a resolution condemning “hate based on racial, social, and cultural bias” and committing to providing “appropriate resources to ensure civil and human rights are protected and afforded to all individuals.”
The resolution was sponsored by Jim Sims, the council’s only Black member, and co-sponsored by the other eight members.
Bloomington park commissioner Israel Herrera asks questions of protesters at the Feb. 25, 2020 meeting of the commission.
Protestors stand and offer sustained applause for park commissioner Israel Herrera’s vote against the new rules of behavior.
Bloomington’s board of park commissioners voted 2–1 on Tuesday night to adopt new rules of behavior at the city’s farmers market. Dissenting was the newest board member, Israel Herrera.
The rules specify how and where protests are allowed at the farmers market.
Herrera told The Square Beacon after the meeting that his vote was based on the concerns that meeting protestors had conveyed—from the public podium and their seats in the audience—about the possibility of increased police violence in the coming season, due to the new rules. People who speak up should not be forced to shut up, he said.