BLM Btown's Statement on our Anti-Racist Training and our local elected officials response.
After national and local protests over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other recent victims of police violence, Black residents of Bloomington and Monroe county were victimized in three separate and escalating incidents of harassment and violence in the first week of July. Bloomingtonians responded by holding demonstrations in front of the Monroe County courthouse and at the People's Park. At these demonstrations, the people called for city and county officials to be accountable for racial violence that takes place on their watch.
In a fairly standard move, the City Council and Mayor’s office denounced those incidents using platitudes of support and sadness. BLM B-town and the community put pressure on them at the demonstrations and in an online campaign to participate in an anti-racist policy training that BLM B-town had created for elected officials. The creation of this training was born from a request for help from City Council members. BLM B-town also extended the offer of anti-racist policy training to the Monroe County Council and Monroe County Commissioners after conversations with certain County Councilors indicated the need for such a training for them as well.
Due to this pressure, the City Council and the Mayor’s Office have expressed commitments to participate in “some sort” of anti-racist policy training to make Bloomington safe, civil, and just. The problem is that since the rise of #BlackLivesMatter as a movement, there has been an explosion of opportunists, eager to profit by offering “anti-racism workshops” which give politicians a gold star but yield no substantive change in terms of how officials approach policy-making. The burgeoning anti-racist training industry operates like “degree mill” online universities that offer cut-rate credentials, but no actual education. Many of the police guilty of the recent murders of unarmed Black people had taken these types of “workshops.” We need our city officials to participate in real, anti-racist training, not a perfunctory “workshop” that produces no substantive changes. This is why BLM B-town created our workshop: to address local needs and locate changes in current policies.
This is another concern: Bloomington has a habit of hiring or working with outside consultants who are unfamiliar with our community. Last year, after repeatedly failing to deal with active white supremacist recruiters operating in its own Farmers’ Market, the City contracted with an Ohio firm to conduct an assessment of racial injustices in Bloomington. The report generated by this assessment (written by a former mayor of Rochester, New York, who visited Bloomington only three times) underplayed the problem, refusing to point to clear and admitted problems with racist policy-making by our community’s legislators. As outsiders, the authors of this report had no investment in seeing Bloomington remediate its racist ways. In fact, their motivation may have been the opposite: if things stay bad, they can come back in another five years to do another study on our dime.
As Bloomingtonians, we have an obligation to ensure our elected officials are trained in anti-racist policy-making that specifically targets local issues from the perspective of progressive Black community members. This means the training should be focused on specific policies made by our legislative bodies that have caused disproportionate harm to our BIPOC communities. It should come from people who live here and are thus motivated to hold Bloomington city officials accountable. Black, other marginalized Bloomingtonians, & BLM B-town as an organization are not interested in giving our elected officials a participation trophy for anti-racism in exchange for a check: we need our city officials to stop passing regressive laws and making regressive decisions that oppress and harm us.
As was mentioned earlier, thanks to the efforts of community members who pressured the Bloomington City Council, Monroe County Council, and the Mayor of Bloomington to “Take the Training” proposed by BLM B-town (a proposal submitted via email with supporting documents), officials from each of these bodies have come out with statements affirming that they do, in fact, want and need this SORT of anti-racist training. None of these bodies has moved from talk to action with BLM B-town, however.
County Councillors contacted us, stating that all members (save Marty Hawk whose recent, racist, baseless attacks against Black activists make it clear where she stands) were interested, but they have yet to confirm or schedule their training. The City Council, after soliciting a proposal for an anti-racist policy training course from BLM B-town, have since resorted to inappropriate and time-wasting demands. One white City Councilor segregated one of our BLM B-town Core Council members for an almost two-hour conversation, insinuating that the rest of the Core Council was perhaps not qualified to be leading such a training. It was at best a racist tactic of divide and conquer, at worst a white supremacist attempt at the suppression of our collective voice.
The Mayor's office, in response to our proposal, has introduced a series of bureaucratic gate-keeping measures that reproduce exactly the sorts of racist policy our training is meant to address. These gatekeeping measures include “qualifications checks” performed through an undisclosed process with NO transparency other than a verbal assurance that of course the process will be “fair.” This amounts to a nearly entirely white government body attempting to set the terms of how Black-activist, anti-racist trainers are to be vetted. This results in a system where those who need to learn how to become anti-racists get to decide who is “Black” enough & qualified enough to teach them how to become anti-racists. This is the cycle of oppression and white supremacy being played out within this selection process.
In addition to displaying a profound disrespect for the time of Black educators who are offering to provide a much-needed service to our city officials, the process itself is evidence of the sort of policies Bloomington and Monroe County need to dismantle. Furthermore, it is clear that none of these bodies actually read our proposal, given that the questions they asked of us could simply have been resolved by reading said proposal and the accompanying emails around the proposal; or by doing a quick google search and reading through BLM’s website. It seems as if the city and county are interested in the idea of being anti-racist, but don’t want to do the hard work of learning how to actually be an anti-racist.
We should mention that the County Commissioners have yet to respond to our requests. Additionally, we must note last year’s scandal involving a former County Commissioner. It was BLM B-town that pointed out the racism in the sexual harassment of an employee contracted by the county, a Brown Saudi American male who has harassed by a white female County Commissioner. When that story broke, all three of the current County Commissioners issued statements in support of their now-former colleague, despite the overwhelming mountain of evidence against her. Those County Commissioners showed clear racial bias in their statements about the 2019 situation, and when called to task for it, refused to address the racial inequality of the individuals involved.
Given all we have outlined here concerning the inability of our elected officials to commit to BLM B-town’s anti-racist policy training, despite the public claims by many to need and want such training, BLM B-town is asking our community members for help in holding our local officials accountable.
If you believe that your city and county elected officials need further direction in crafting anti-racist policies, demand they commit to anti-racist policy training that is:
* Specific to Bloomington and Monroe County
* Directed by members of the Bloomington and Monroe County community
* Focused specifically on anti-racist policy-making rather than general "implicit bias" training
* Carries a component of local accountability
* Is led by diverse Black progressives from the community
* Rooted in the #Black Lives Matter ethos of dismantling anti-Black white supremacy
Please help us hold them accountable and get them to “Take the Training!”
As the long-overdue national recognition that Black lives matter increases, so, too, does the backlash of anti-Black violence. Bloomington, despite its progressive aspirations, is not immune.
Though the violence Black Bloomingtonians face is often less virulent (and less visible) than in other parts of the nation, our city still propagates an insidious neoliberal racism that keeps our police overfunded, our schools segregated, and our farmers’ market full of dangerous racists. Combined with more explicit calls to violence coming from national leaders, including the President, we are seeing an escalation in violence even here. The City of Bloomington and Monroe County at large are showing, if nothing else, a high level of tolerance for white supremacy that continues to foster violence against Black bodies. Many progressives in our community pride themselves on tolerance.
But, when it comes to white supremacy, we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves: how much hate should we tolerate?
In the last week, there have been three racist incidences that have taken place in or around Bloomington. These incidents show an escalation of violence, and law enforcement’s complicity in that system of violence.
-July 1, 2020: Black IU football players on a boat at Lake Monroe are racially profiled by the white occupants of another boat at the lake, and by responding DNR Officers. (https://www.idsnews.com/…/arrest-at-lake-monroe-spurs-iu-fo…)
-July 3, 2020: Darwin “Dee” Davis, Jr., a lifelong Bloomingtonian and Bloomington South basketball star, is profiled while walking in his own neighborhood. He was stopped by an off-duty Lawrence County police officer, and forced to produce ID for “walking while Black.” Davis recorded and then recounted the experience on his Twitter Feed. (https://twitter.com/DeeDavisX/status/1279107572092620801).
-July 4, 2020: Vauhxx Rush Booker of the Bloomington Human Rights Commission is assaulted in an obvious hate crime at Lake Monroe. Mr. Booker was physically assaulted by no fewer than five white men who expressed an intention to lynch him. They jumped him from behind, pinned him to a tree, beat him, and repeatedly called for someone to get a noose, all while yelling racial slurs. Video footage shows Mr. Booker’s white friends pleading with the men to let Booker go. Friends of the would-be lynch mob also stepped in, begging them to stop what they were doing. White allies recording the incident were themselves assaulted for daring to record the event. 911 dispatchers sent DNR officers to Lake Monroe. DNR declined to arrest Booker’s assailants, claiming the Prosecutor’s office had told them “there was no immediate need to arrest anyone, and that the officers would simply file a report.”(https://www.facebook.com/vauhxx/posts/10222147157086001)
Bloomington: what level of white supremacy are YOU willing to tolerate? In just the last week, Black Bloomingtonians have been threatened and harassed on three separate occasions. Each time, this mistreatment of Black people was either co-signed or perpetrated by local law enforcement. This sends a clear message that in the City of Bloomington, and in Monroe County, anti-Black violence up to--and possibly including--public lynchings is acceptable.
In two of these situations, there were people who were willing to intervene where law enforcement did not. There were people who were NOT willing to tolerate this level of violence. This is a principle of community defense in action.
These recent examples make it absolutely clear that Bloomington and Monroe County do not need more police. Police do not make BIPOC and other marginalized people safer. What Bloomington and Monroe County need are more community members who will not allow this sort of violence to happen, and who will hold the authorities accountable for their support and tolerance of white supremacy.
In line with our overall commitment to de-policing our communities, and in light of the past week’s events, BLM-Btown demands that:
1). The attack on Mr. Booker must be immediately investigated as a hate crime.
2). The officers involved in all three of these incidents must be investigated and disciplined before their prejudice and negligence threatens the lives and safety of more Black people.
3). Monroe County must commit to investigating its relationship with the DNR, as they have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to support anti-Black violence on Lake Monroe.
4). The City and County must commit to a freeze on all law enforcement hires, effective immediately.
5). Both the City and the County must commit to specific training in dismantling white supremacy in their policy and funding decisions to disrupt their long history of damage to BIPOC communities.
This is just the beginning of the kinds of actions the city and county we call home must take to demonstrate that they value the health, the safety, and the lives of their Black residents. If Bloomington wants to claim the label of “Safe and Civil,” our City needs to make this a reality for Black Bloomingtonians as well.
Core Council, BLM-Btown
Black Against the Wall: Black life and death; virtual protest against state sponsored violence during COVID19 and beyond.
BLM Bloomington Core Council will be in discussion about the intersection of Covid19 death rates for Black folks & the recent public lynchings and murders of Black people. As well as discussing, what we should be doing during this time of crisis, Black Joy in spite of Black death. Revolution, dismantling the police force & more. We also hope to provide an educational place to work from for fueling the movement. This is a continuation of our efforts to promote anti-racist work & educate people on how to become an anti-racist.
June 6th 2020 at 3:00 pm on Facebook Live
Our protest will be about 90 mins
Visit the link for the event on Sat. www.facebook.com/blacklivesmatterbtown/posts/3865770443464840
The event will be recorded and put out on all of our socials & website.
IF you would like to submit questions or discussion topics PLEASE email BLM before Sat we will vet the questions & try to answer as many as we can.
Hello all currently BLM B-town is not planning an in person event or march due to COVID19 concerns. TO BE CLEAR we are NOT organizing the June 5th event! We encourage those in Bloomington who are healthy & wish to protest to attend the protests in Indy, Louisville & Minneapolis!
We are working on a virtual event around the continued murder of unarmed Black folks, Covid19 Black Death & the interconnected issues of state sponsored Black Death BUT we need a little bit of time to make that happen.
Additionally we are doing a supply drive for Dignity Bags & accepting donations to go to our drive and to give to our comrades protesting the murders & lynchings of Black Folks.
Due to the recent outbreak of the Covid19 and the growing concerns around it we are Re-Launching our Necessity Drive to ensure that our local social service organizations are fully stocked with items they will need to help those in the most vulnerable populations in our town. Items of particular need are Soaps, Hand Sanitizer & Face Masks.
Please look to giving however you can, we have 3 ways to donate.
1. is by Online Bulk Shopping that you can send directly to BLM via our Amazon Prime Wish Lists separated out into supply need categories. While some prefer not to shop at Amazon we also have other Bulk Online Stores to shop from to drop off to BLM at our drop off locations TBA
2. BUY IN BULK LOCALLY and again drop off to BLM at our drop off locations TBA.
3. Shop by each organizations Wish-List and bring those items DIRECTLY to them during their open hours.
For Immediate Release
Black Lives Matter Bloomington Indiana
On February 2nd, the 2nd day of Black History Month, the Herald-Times (HT) in Bloomington published a front-page article supporting white supremacy in our community. This is not the first time the HT has published a celebration of the racist, anti-Semitic, white nationalist American Identity Movement (AIM) and its members. Such pieces are transparently racist in nature and examples of biased journalism at its worst.
Therefore, we urge all people who individually subscribe to the HT to cancel their subscriptions and urge all businesses who subscribe to or advertise in the HT to cease all involvement with them and join us in a total boycott of the paper. The HT’s reporting is neither fair nor balanced. They did not contact nor communicate with BLM B-town, No Space for Hate (NSFH), the Purple Shirt Brigade, or any of the other groups who have been actively opposing SCF or Sarah Dye. Instead, the HT wrote Dye a front-page love letter. It is time to stop supporting corrupt journalism that supports the destruction of our communities.
Additionally, BLM B-town would like to address the City of Bloomington’s mishandling of its City-run farmers’ market. Recently, an article confirmed that the City spent over $100,000 on security for its market in 2019 --more than 20 times the amount it spent in 2018. This increase is a direct result of the white supremacist threat that SCF invited into their booth and into our community every week. The City claims that more police equals greater safety for those attending the City-run market. However, Black & Brown, GLBTQ+, and other marginalized residents of Bloomington have voiced concerns that increased policing does not make us more safe. In fact, for those communities directly threatened by the City’s white supremacist vendors, more police and surveillance can be more dangerous to our lives and well-being than no police at all.
We strongly object to the continued presence of white supremacists at the City-run market, we object to the City spending horrifying amounts of money to protect those white supremacists and not marginalized people, and we reject the idea that the City has no means to remove SCF. We believe the City had a chance to change the market’s rules in order to exclude those who hold violent, racist viewpoints, and they chose not to do so. Instead, they changed the rules to limit the free speech of market patrons as well as market vendors in a multitude of ways, from signage on.
We call on the City to divest from the City-run market entirely, and help provide support and aid to the newly emerging Farmer/Vendor-run market, currently known as the Eastside Market. We call on all those who currently attend the City-run market to not only engage in a total boycott of SCF, but to also boycott the entire, City-run market.
We call for this action because the City’s market cannot provide a safe, civil, and welcoming environment for all people as long as it continues to allow white supremacists a venue to recruit and promote their hate.
To be clear, we call for a complete and total boycott of the City-run market by all people. We advocate for all farmers’ market attendees to support the newly emerging farmer/vender-run market, currently called the Eastside Market. Additionally, we advocate for all anti-racist farmers and vendors to join that market, leaving behind the City-run market. We call for a total boycott of the Herald Times in Bloomington for its biased reporting celebrating racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism & the American Identity Movement. It is long past time for Bloomingtonians to divest from institutions that promote the destruction of marginalized people.
Black Lives Matter Core Council
Links & Email:
BLM B-town's full response to the Question's posed by the HT on the response to Bridge Initiative report
BLM B-town was asked several questions about the Bridge Initiative Report and only a few selections of our answers were provided in the article and the context of them was somewhat skewed. So, below is our complete and uncut answers to the questions about the report. We feel you should see and know what BLM B-town is saying about all of these issues without the lens the media put forth.
Here is the article: (click here)
Here are our answers:
Questions regarding the Divided Community Project report sent to BLM B-town by Emily Ernsberger from the HT
Here is the Report mentioned in the questions BRIDGE REPORT
1) Overall, how do you feel about the report? Do you feel the issues laid out in the subsection "Visibility of African Americans in Bloomington/Loss of African American history in Bloomington" are accurate? Other sections?
2) What, if anything, do you feel like is missing? While this report is a brief overview of a lot of topics, do you think anything egregious was left out?
3) What are your views on the suggestion of a task force to cover the race issues laid out in the report? Would any of you be interested in joining one, were it formed?
4) Specifically regarding the farmers' market, there were many comments made at the Farmers' Market Advisory Council meetings this summer and on social media indicating that people of color never went to the market because they didn't feel safe. In the report, it is written that "many of the people with whom Mr. Johnson spoke, especially people of color, firmly dispelled this idea" and were instead not interested due to price and products. Do you feel this finding is correct? Or that both notions are? Other thoughts?
5) Is there anything else you'd like to add regarding the report/farmers market/etc?
BLM Aug 8th 2019 Letter about the Farmer’s Market
After our wonderfully successful event on Oct 26th at the Monroe Public Library we wanna say thanks to all those who helped make it possible and those who showed up to watch live. Please enjoy the whole uncut event below. Please share this video.
Click the link below:
Featured on the panels and talks:
BLM Core Council Members
Program for A Seat at the Table
Black Lives Matter Bloomington
Core Council Bloomington, IN
August 8th, 2019
Black Bloomingtonians face many problems more pressing than white supremacists at the Farmers’ Market: systemic racism leading to over-policing, under-employment, inadequate housing, and fewer academic opportunities are much more on the minds of most black residents.
However, Black Lives Matter Bloomington sees the continued presence of white supremacists at the City’s premier weekly event as emblematic of Mayor John Hamiliton and City of Bloomington’s general lack of commitment to black and other marginalized residents. It would be unreasonable to expect Mayor Hamilton and City Officials to undo decades of structural and institutional racism. These problems have brewed over generations and will require years (or even decades) to adequately address. However, the City administration could take more immediate action by adopting a strong and decisive stance against violent white supremacists at city-run events.
Removing Schooner Creek Farms from the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market will not “solve racism” in Bloomington, but it is a very low bar, and meeting it would allow the City to demonstrate a bare minimum effort toward making our communities safe for all residents, citizens, and visitors. No Space for Hate has produced two reports outlining the threats white supremacists have made against members of our community as well as the activities of Sarah Dye and Douglas Mackey. Much of what we describe here is evidenced in their reports, which you can find at nospace4hate.btown-in.org . Both the mayor and the Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee have spoken about diversity and inclusion as true Bloomington values. Now, BLM wants the City to put actions behind those words.
First, the City needs a concrete plan for removing SCF and all other white supremacist organizations from events run by the City. This should include steps for preventing white supremacist incursions in the future as well. We recognize that such a policy may pose unique legal challenges on legal grounds, but we are confident that the City can exercise creativity in its bid to increase safety at the Bloomington Farmers’ Market. City government owes it to it black and marginalized residents to fight this fight with us rather than abandoning us yet again.
Second, the mayor needs to point his law enforcement officers at the right targets. Words are cheap, and it is hard for the mayor to claim he values diversity and inclusion when his law enforcement officers detained, threatened, and in one case, arrested non- violent protesters of color while granting a wide berth to a white supremacist militia who menaced market-goers. The City of Bloomington needs to recognize that “more police” do not make black and brown people “more safe.” One simple but temporary fix would be for the Farmers’ Market to change its policy about signs currently, this policy merely serves as a pretext for police to harass protesters, many of whom are people of color. The City could also choose to apply this policy only against signs and flyers that feature hate speech which is often violent or threatening speech.
Third, the City needs to commission a study on diversity and inclusion at the Farmers’ Market. Anecdotally, it seems clear that black and brown people are under-represented as both patrons and vendors. We would like to have data to back up these casual observations. This study will give the City information that can become the basis of a plan to make certain that currently marginalized populations are included in future markets.
As to that future, BLM also supports the numerous groups who are calling for the City to relinquish control of the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market. While “privatization” of public resources is contentious (and rightly so!), in light of the City’s utter failure of stewardship, the market needs to be turned over to a group that can ensure its healthy continuation as a safe and welcoming place for all members of the Bloomington community. The Monroe County Growers Association (MCGA) has already proven its commitment to a secure environment for market-goers in part by excluding these vendors. The MCGA recognizes the urgency of banning individuals who have threatened the peace of the market by soliciting outside support from known white supremacist organizations while attempting to recruit within our community.
These recommendations come from talking with our local community members of all races, sexualities, religious backgrounds and cultural identities. These recommendations are not without their challenges, and they are not catch-all fixes for the ingrained white supremacy in our community and country, but we are not asking for the City of Bloomington to reinvent the wheel. Other communities have implemented resistance to white supremacy on which we can model ourselves, not to mention the multitude of scholarly research we have at our fingertips to use to do this work. These recommendations simply suggest basic measures to combat the danger white supremacy poses to our community and marginalized individuals. There is overwhelming evidence that Dye and Mackey hold explicitly Neo-Nazi views and that they themselves are active recruiters for their movement. In addition to bringing a violent militia organization to our market, they are also closely connected with violent white supremacist leaders locally and nationally. We the community members who are at risk of being the victims of hate crimes deserve a city that protects them.
Black Lives Matter Bloomington, Core Council
Speech read at our Juneteenth event on June 19th 2019 by BLM B-town Core Council Member Amrita Myers
Happy Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day. On June 19, 1865, enslaved men and women in Texas finally learned that they were free — several months after the end of the Civil War, and more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the rebelling states. Of course, it didn’t free those enslaved persons in states that remained loyal to the Union, like Maryland and Delaware, or those which remained neutral, like Kentucky. And since the Confederacy considered itself a sovereign nation and ignored the Emancipation Proclamation, the enslaved in those states had to become fugitives, running away from captivity to free themselves from bondage. Freedom was a long time coming. Some might say it still hasn’t fully arrived.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some places a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the afro-future.
Every June 19th since 1865, African Americans across the nation have held celebrations commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. For many African Americans, it is a more significant celebration than Independence Day.
Black Live Matter Bloomington believes that we should make Juneteenth a national holiday so that we can truly celebrate everyone’s freedom! Making Juneteenth a national holiday would go a long way towards recognizing not just the history of slavery in this country, but also the struggles freed Black folk endured during and after the Reconstruction, including the fight for civil rights and against the marginalization, incarceration and brutal state violence we still face today. We call for the city, county and the state to help to support and recognize efforts to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday and to promote collective celebrations by funding them as well as other black events and cultural festivals.
Our celebration of Juneteenth is a part of our community outreach and coalition initiatives. We seek to educate, engage and enjoy our town and community. Thank you all for coming out to eat, drink, dance, and engage in community discussions in our Speak Out area. Please remember that the space we are in today, as with all BLM events, is a Black Space. Open your ears and minds to what Black folks are telling you so that you can affirm their truth.
~Core Council of Black Lives Matter Bloomington