Bloomington works to heed court’s order on art, means temporary delay on OK for Freezefest 2023

A special events application to hold the third annual Freezefest downtown in the Trades District area would have normally received a straightforward approval from Bloomington’s three-member board of public works on Tuesday night.

It’s an ice carving festival set to take place along Maker’s Way from Jan. 15 to Jan. 22, and features a chili cook-off at The Mill, a coworking space located in the former dimension mill of the Showers Brothers Furniture Company.

Instead of receiving an approval, the Freezefest application was pulled from the meeting agenda.

The reason Freezefest didn’t get a vote on Tuesday is not related to any controversy related to Freezefest itself. In fact, the festival’s special event application will likely be approved at the board’s next meeting, on Dec. 20.

But for now, Freezefest falls under a moratorium on special events applications, which the board of public works imposed on Tuesday.

The moratorium is related to litigation against the city of Bloomington that arose out of a request to install an “All Lives Matter” street mural on Kirkwood Avenue, in response to the city’s three “Black Lives Matter” street murals. Continue reading “Bloomington works to heed court’s order on art, means temporary delay on OK for Freezefest 2023”

Federal judge to Bloomington: Create criteria for public art requests in right-of-way, allow application for “All Lives Matter” street mural

Bloomington could see an “All Lives Matter” mural painted on a downtown city street, after previously authorizing three “Black Lives Matter” street murals.

That’s because of a ruling from a federal judge last Friday.

Under Friday’s ruling, by Jan. 2 next year, the city of Bloomington has to  come up with the procedures that private groups and people can use to request approval for use of the city’s rights-of-way to display public art.

The order says that the city has to “promulgate” the application procedure to the public within 45 days of the order, dated Nov. 18, 2022. The public that is described in the order explicitly includes Indiana University student Kyle Reynolds and the Indiana University Chapter of Turning Point USA, who filed suit against Bloomington in late February.

In their lawsuit, Reynolds and Turning Point asked the Monroe County circuit court to issue an injunction requiring the city of Bloomington to allow Reynolds to paint a street mural that states “All Lives Matter” on Kirkwood Avenue in front of the Von Lee building.

The “All Lives Matter” slogan is associated with opposition to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Continue reading “Federal judge to Bloomington: Create criteria for public art requests in right-of-way, allow application for “All Lives Matter” street mural”

Bloomington prevails in lawsuit filed by vendor over anti-white-supremacist protests at farmers market

On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge delivered a summary judgment in favor of Bloomington, in the lawsuit filed against the city, the mayor and two staff members, by the owners of Schooner Creek Farm (SCF).

Six protestors against Schooner Creek Farm, including one in a purple unicorn costume, were arrested on Nov. 9, 2019. None were charged.

The summary judgment means the case got a ruling without a trial. It also means the court agreed with Bloomington that there were no relevant disputes about the facts of the case, and that it could be decided just based on application of the law.

The court found that Bloomington did not violate the constitutional rights of SCF’s owners, as they had claimed. According to the city of Bloomington’s news release, which came late Friday, SCF’s owners  have 30 days to file an appeal with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Schooner Creek Farm (SCF) was a Bloomington farmers market vendor during the 2019 season. SCF drew protests that year from local activists over its ties to white supremacist groups and views. On two occasions, protesters were arrested by Bloomington police, but charges were not filed.

The lawsuit claimed that the city had not enforced the market rules against the protesters in the same way it had enforced rules against SCF—which is a constitutional equal protections issue. SCF also claimed that its constitutional rights of free speech were infringed by the city’s response to the protests. Continue reading “Bloomington prevails in lawsuit filed by vendor over anti-white-supremacist protests at farmers market”

No charges for protestors at Bloomington farmers market, says Monroe County prosecutor

Five protesters who were arrested at Bloomington’s farmers market on Nov. 9 last year,  will not be prosecuted for their actions, according to a statement issued Wednesday morning by Monroe County’s prosecutor. They had been given summonses for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

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Flanked by two Bloomington police officers on Nov. 9, 2019, after his arrest at the farmers market for a protest against white supremacy, is Forrest Gilmore wearing a purple unicorn costume. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The protest got national attention in part because of the inflatable purple unicorn costume worn by one of the protestors.

In the statement from the prosecutor’s office, Monroe County’s prosecutor, Erika Oliphant, is quoted saying, “My office has evaluated the specific facts and circumstances surrounding these citations, and we have decided that it is appropriate to decline prosecution in this instance.”

The specific facts of the situation included protest activity—holding signs and loud singing inside the market vendor area—directed at the Schooner Creek Farm stand. The owners of Schooner Creek were identified by local activists earlier in the year as having ties to a white supremacist group.

In late July last year, one protestor was arrested for similar activity—holding a sign near the Schooner Creek Farm stand. That protestor was also not prosecuted. Continue reading “No charges for protestors at Bloomington farmers market, says Monroe County prosecutor”

Focus of Bloomington’s “fragile” farmers market in 2020: Decisions on time, manner and place

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Bloomington’s farmers market advisory council (FMTAC) takes a vote Monday night on a recommendation that the percentage of gross sales that food and beverage artisans pay to the market be reduced from 10 to 5 percent in 2020, with a goal of establishing a fixed fee on par with that paid by farm vendors. FMTAC did not take a vote for or against privatization of the market. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

On Jan. 9 next year, Bloomington’s board of park commissioners will make a decision about the future of the city-sponsored market, which last year featured 121 farm vendors and 17 food and beverage artisans. Continue reading “Focus of Bloomington’s “fragile” farmers market in 2020: Decisions on time, manner and place”

Decision on Bloomington farmers market future to be made in January: “The First Amendment has not changed since July.”

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City council chambers were packed on Saturday afternoon for a panel discussion on the future of Bloomington’s farmers market. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

A decision about if and how Bloomington’s farmers market will operate next year won’t come until Jan. 9. That announcement was made by Mary Catherine Carmichael, director of public engagement for the city of Bloomington, to a crowd that packed city council chambers on Saturday afternoon. Continue reading “Decision on Bloomington farmers market future to be made in January: “The First Amendment has not changed since July.””