#BLM B-town’s State of the City Rebuttal
The state of the city from a black lives matter perspective
To Whom it Concerns,
Over a year ago, BLM B-town and other local activists as well as concerned residents interested in protecting black and brown lives, right to protest, harm reduction, confronting white supremacy, and de-militarizing the police, came together to disrupt Mayor John Hamilton’s State of the City address to insist he stop the purchase of the Lenco BearCat militarized assault vehicle. This was a catalyzing moment for BLM B-town, as well as a chance to speak out forcefully about larger issues related to policing, city funding, and the failure of our current mayor to seek out feedback from marginalized communities here in Bloomington about how this purchase would affect them.
We spent the months following seeking direct dialogue and action from the mayor and city council. We asked for the decision of the purchase to be reviewed and taken to the people of Bloomington, we offered alternatives, and we provided detailed information in our People’s Report (link here) about how the BearCat military added to the militarization of the police and contributed to disproportionate arrests, imprisonment, and even deaths of people of color, especially black people around the country and locally.
During several private meetings and a number of public protests, we consistently asked for public oversight of the purchasing process and future public oversight of the police and mayoral spending. Many of our concerns, questions, and demands were dismissed, publicly challenged by the mayor’s office, or met with tone deaf rhetoric from the city council.
As a result, we spent the rest of the year focusing on the political landscape of Bloomington by talking with, evaluating, and questioning those politicians who were seeking office in 2018. Our “A Seat at the Table” round-table discussion with Midterm candidates made a significant difference in opening a dialogue about race relations as they impact Bloomington politics. That event, along with our Midterm Voter’s guide, exposed the vast amount of work that local, regional, and state politicians still need to do in order to address the needs and concerns of black people and people of color (POC) in the Bloomington community and across Indiana.
As part of our 2019 reboot and efforts to align ourselves with BLM’s national guiding principles, BLM B-town will continue to shine a light on the lack of diversity and inclusion that permeates the political actions and policies of our current mayoral administration, city council, and 2019 primary candidates. Using the data collected by the NAACP and the Racial Justice Task Force of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington’s longitudinal study of Race and Criminal Justice in Monroe County, we will continue to provide empirical evidence of the militarization of the police and bring to light the Bloomington Police Department’s abysmal arrest record and history of racial bias against Black people in Bloomington.
We will continue to question the need for a quarter-million dollar purchase of the Lenco BearCat by Mayor John Hamilton when many other programs that promote the public interest could use that funding. We will seek oversight in the use of the BearCat military assault vehicle, and any future spending related to it or the further militarization of the police. We will continue to call out, protest and use direct action when issues arise that threaten the freedom of Black people, POC and other marginalized communities. We will continue to dismantle patriarchy, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and other oppressive structures within the community.
In short, one year out from a major protest, we acknowledge that at once nothing has changed, and yet everything has changed.
We still see institutionalized racism in the decisions of the current mayoral administration, city council, and the state and federal governments. We still see no need for acquiring the BearCat military assault vehicle, particularly in light of the fact that the deployment of the vehicle thus far has not even remotely justified its purchase. Additionally, we charge that all of the “public comment” sessions held by the city last year served as a platform for propagandistic responses by a mayor who never intended to seek public comment, and a city council who refused to check the power and authority of the mayor. Their actions lead us to conclude that our town needs to create a pipeline for new, progressive candidates of color to who will shape our local government by re-populating it with persons who have marginalized voices.
Our efforts to draw attention to these issues have truly resonated with many in our community, resulting in engagement from more people of color in local politics as well as in activism and social justice. We have shown that change is needed in our local government, and through our efforts to educate and inform the Bloomington community, we’ve had a powerful impact on the cultural landscape. Our participation in community outreach, donation drives, and establishing partnerships and information exchanges with other local organizations has also furthered this work. We see that when we use our many voices to represent different perspectives and speak up for Bloomington, we prove that the Black community is not monolithic, and that many of us wish to change the status quo in order to improve the quality of life for all Black folks. Moreover, our issues are intersectional, and our pursuit of freedom benefits other POC and marginalized folks as well. We have demonstrated that we can change our beliefs and culture locally, and in the coming year, we will continue to put pressure on our local government to promote progress and dismantle hierarchical systems of control.
We invite members of the community to email us to learn more about upcoming projects for 2019 and for more details about how to get involved.www.blm.btown-in.org, www.facebook.com/blacklivesmatterbtown or email email@example.com for direct contact with BLM B-town
Black Lives Matter Bloomington Core Council
This message is in response to some questions regarding the recent reorganization of BLM B-town. Please see our recent press release for more complete details: https://blm.btown-in.org/blm-b-town-blog
In general, we are rebooting this organization in order to bring it closer to the Guiding Principles outlined by the National BLM organization. Those principles can be found on our website here: https://blm.btown-in.org/about.html
In this process, we removed Vauhxx Booker not only from his role on the BLM Core Council but from our general membership for violating our internal agreements. As stated in our recent press release Mr. Booker has organized meetings on behalf of #BLM B-town to garner support from local organizations, politicians, and prominent public figures against the express wishes of the former and current core council. As a reminder, #BLM B-town does not endorse candidates for office. #BLM B-town wishes to remain a politically independent organization and looks forward to continuing to bring voters accurate, non-partisan information about local politics. Thus his actions and his bid for Bloomington City Council are at odds with the organization’s mission and goals.
Additionally, in response to emergent security concerns, we have shut down our Facebook Group page. We will continue to share information with the public through our Facebook main page and our own website.
All of our current efforts are to ensure the continued growth of BLM in Bloomington and to support the wider black and diverse communities in our city.
-BLM B-town Core Council
For Immediate Release
#Black Lives Matter B-town
#Black Live Matter Bloomington Rebooting with New Core Council.
New Goals and Objectives for 2019 and Beyond.
Bloomington IN: Today, #Black Lives Matter B-town is announcing its reformation and reboot with new core council members as well as an amended structure and new goals for the 2019 calendar year. This new #BLM B-town consists of many progressive black activist leaders supported by progressive activist non-black identifying people of color and white members. The local chapter of #BLM is committed to bringing the group in line with the Guiding Principles outlined by the national #Black Lives Matter organization. To that end, they are creating new working agreements, projects, committees, and ways of looking at local issues that concern #BLM and the black, brown and progressive communities. All of this change comes out of a desire for the new group to learn from past mistakes.
“We are excited about our reboot and looking forward to engaging the community in a way we haven’t been able to do before. We have more local philanthropy in the works, 2019 Primary candidate questionnaire and reviews, more and expanded police and court oversight, education watch committees, and more community building and engagement events as well. Our commitment to confronting white supremacy, our commitment to one another, and our firm belief that black lives do, should, and always have mattered will become the ground for our new foundation to the community we wish to build."
#BLM B-town is particularly excited about their highly anticipated “Make the Right Call Campaign” that urges everyone to consider alternatives to dialing 911 and to utilize the local organizations specially geared to help with a myriad of issues facing Bloomingtonians daily.
As a reminder, #BLM B-town wants to reiterate that they do not endorse candidates for office. They want to stress that they are no longer affiliated with Mr. Vauhxx Booker, candidate for city council. Mr. Booker has organized meetings on behalf of #BLM B-town to garner support from local organizations, politicians, and prominent public figures against the express wishes of the former and current core council. #BLM B-town wishes to remain a politically independent organization, and looks forward to continuing to bring voters accurate, non-partisan information about local politics.
"From now on WE, the core council and at-large membership of #Black Lives Matter B-town, speak with one voice united in all of our endeavors, and we will continue to grow and change together, not hampered by the past, but looking forward to the Afro-future."
The newly reformed group is looking forward to welcoming new members in the spring, and in the meantime are actively seeking progressive black activists to serve on the core council. With respect to general membership, they are in particular looking for people of color to sign up, especially those whose intersectional issues can foster new collaborations and new ways to engage the Bloomington community. In the era of #metoo, #timesup, and #blm it is important that #BLM B-town ensure they are a safe place for all identities, genders and sexualities, as well as a progressive place and a black-led space.
Check out their website for more information on upcoming projects and how you can get involved. www.blm.btown-in.org, www.facebook.com/blacklivesmatterbtown or email firstname.lastname@example.org for direct contact with BLM B-town.