Photos: “March to End the Madness” uses basketball branding in support of homeless community

A demonstration to support Bloomington’s homeless community passes in front of Assembly Hall in the early afternoon of Saturday, March 20, 2021 (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

Shortly after 11 a.m. in Dunn Meadow on Indiana University’s campus, a demonstration tipped off in support of those experiencing homelessness in Bloomington.

Somewhere between 70 and 90 people were a part of the action at various points during the late morning and early afternoon, which would up at the intersection of 17th Street and Woodlawn Avenue, kitty-corner from Indiana University’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

That’s where demonstrators set up 17 blue free-standing tents.

The historical background to the demonstration included the clearance of an encampment of people experiencing homelessness at Bloomington’s Seminary Park in early December and again in early January.

Also prompting the demonstration was an early March decision by the Bloomington city council that rejected an ordinance, on a 4–4 vote, that would have provided some protections to homeless encampments.

Saturday’s demonstration was targeted at Indiana University.

At the tailgate grounds across from the university’s football stadium and the basketball area, activist Patrick Saling addressed the crowd, “We asked the city to tell us, Where can we be? It’s not here, it’s not there, it’s not there. Where can we be? The city’s answer: Probably nowhere. So now we put the same question to IU. We say, If we can’t be here, then where can we be?”

Some of the NCAA basketball tournament games are being hosted at IU’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. So the demonstration leveraged the tournament’s branding as “March Madness.” Signs held by demonstrators read, “March to End the Madness.”

The demonstrator’s march headed up the hill from Dunn Mendow to the Sample Gates and across the campus to the Bryan House, which is the traditional home of the president of IU. From there, the procession headed to the street still known as Jordan Avenue, and turned north, making its way to 17th Street. From there, demonstrators headed west down 17th Street, past Assembly Hall to the corner of 17th and Woodlawn.

The blue tents had been set up by demonstrators several yards down the hill away from the intersection. At the scene, three IUPD officers told Saling and other organizers that they would not allow the tents to be popped up. The tents could remain, officers said, if they remained flat on the ground—if the demonstrators wanted to make a symbolic gesture.

The response from demonstrators, after some discussion amongst themselves, was to move the tents to the perimeter of the intersection. The IUPD officers headed over across the corner to the parking lot of Assembly Hall where their vehicles were parked and drove away shortly after that.

Photos: March 20, 201 Demonstration

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