On the evening before the effective date of SB1, Indiana’s new law that prohibits most abortions, around a hundred people gathered on the southeast lawn of the Monroe County courthouse in an event that was billed as a vigil to mark the occasion.
From left: Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin and Greater Bloomington Chamber president Eric Spoonmore address the Monroe County Council (Aug. 9, 2022)
Greater Bloomington Chamber president Eric Spoonmore addresses the Monroe County Council (Aug. 9, 2022)
County councilor Jennifer Crossley (Aug. 9, 2022)
View looking south from the top of the 4th Street parking garage of property that could be used for the convention center. The convention center is in the right of the frame.
While a lot of details remain to be worked out, Monroe County councilors appear receptive to the basic idea of transferring ownership of the county’s convention center and related properties to the city of Bloomington.
The city’s hoped-for timeline for getting the deal done is the end of September.
The morning’s scheduled events in downtown Bloomington on July 4 included a performance by the community band, the rededication of the Alexander Memorial on the southeast corner of the courthouse, and a parade—which headed south on College Avenue, then back up Walnut Street.
Not a part of the program was a protest against a recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that overturned Roe v. Wade. The earlier 1973 decision had found that access to an abortion was a constitutional right.
When the rededication ceremony started, demonstrators filed past the southeast corner and headed one block west, to the southwest corner of the square. The B Square counted about 150 protesters, who gathered at the intersection of Kirkwood and College avenues, on the south side of Kirkwood.
Chants and speeches through a megaphone from the protesters could be heard at the Alexander Memorial dedication. But the sound system amplified remarks from speakers enough to make them heard on that corner of the square. At the protester’s corner, the dedication ceremony was audible, but was drowned out by the megaphone.
At mid-block, the message from both corners was a bit muddled.
The idea that a protest and rededication ceremony would take place on opposite ends of the same block, was described by one bystander as “quintessentially Bloomington.”
Remonstration means signing an official petition in opposition to annexation. On Thursday, the Monroe County auditor’s office had fresh signature numbers to report, as of Wednesday.
Based on those numbers, property owners in six of seven areas have a decent chance of blocking Bloomington’s annexation effort outright. In those six areas, more than 65 percent of property owners have submitted signatures. That’s the key threshold.
Here’s the breakdown: Area 1-A (73.83%); Area 1-B( 56.90%); Area 1-C (87.62%); Area 2 (80.44%); Area 3 (75.25%); Area 4 (71.74%); and Area 5 (68.13%)
The numbers reported on Thursday do not reflect the county auditor’s final determination. Any number of reasons could still cause the auditor, on further review, to conclude that a signature is not valid. Among the reasons: The signature a duplicate.
The auditor could also conclude that a remonstrance waiver attached to a property in connection with sewer service is valid, which would eliminate the signature from the count.
About the timeline for final counts, Monroe County auditor Cathy Smith told The B Square: “We know it won’t be any sooner than the third week of January.” That depends in part on how long some final back-and-forth takes between the auditor’s office and Bloomington’s city attorney.
Protesters want the Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, to allow encampments of houseless people to persist in public parks. They point to Centers for Disease Control guidelines that call for allowing encampments to stay in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, if other individual housing options are not available.
Whether such options are available is a disputed point.
Monday’s action included as many as 80 people at its peak, which retraced the steps of around a dozen people the night before, from Seminary Park to Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s house. He lives in the Elm Heights neighborhood, south of the Indiana University campus, about a three-quarter mile walk from Seminary Park.
On Monday, the group continued from the mayor’s house to People’s Park on Kirkwood Avenue, where a teach-in was held, featuring speakers from Indiana University’s Rainbow Coalition, a relatively new coalition of multicultural groups on campus.
The night wrapped up around 11:30 p.m. as two houseless men pitched a tent at People’s Park, and protesters lined the sidewalk to form a wall against possible police action.
The order came in response to anti-police-brutality protests that have taken place nightly starting May 29.
The vote by commissioners to order enforcement came towards the end of their Wednesday meeting.
That meant the meeting was bookended with votes related to the protests. At the start of the meeting, commissioners took turns reading aloud a resolution on criminal justice reform, which they voted to adopt without deliberating further on it.
Among the “resolved” clauses of the ordinance is one that says commissioners “respectfully request the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department to continue to develop written policies which implement Eight Can’t Wait principles …”
On Friday, June 5, 2020, a peaceful protest against police brutality, organized by Black student leaders at Indiana University, wound its way from Dunn Meadow westward to the courthouse square. Demonstrators numbered in the thousands. Here’s a mosaic of images from the event, which was promoted with the slogan “Enough is Enough.” (Click on any image to enlarge and start a slideshow through the rest of the images.)
The killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women, has sparked protests across the country.
Floyd died on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him down with a knee-on-neck hold, an incident that was caught on video. Chauvin, who is white, has been fired and is now charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Locally, the initial reaction played out in the form of a demonstration Friday evening, when a group of around 150 protesters gathered at the southeast corner of the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington. The gathering looks like it was spurred by a more-or-less impromptu call to action on local social media websites.
Protesters eventually moved one block east from the intersection near the Alexander Memorial, to the corner anchored by The Tap. They later walked two blocks north. They wrapped up the roughly 90 minutes of protest in the middle of College Avenue, across from the Monroe County jail.
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.
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.