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