Photos: Protesters mourn effective date of Indiana’s law prohibiting most abortions

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.

Attending Wednesday evening’s event (Sept. 14) and addressing the crowd were county and city officials as well as leaders of nonprofit groups. Continue reading “Photos: Protesters mourn effective date of Indiana’s law prohibiting most abortions”

County council warm to Bloomington’s pitch for convention center transfer

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.

At their regular meeting on Tuesday, county councilors took turns responding to a pitch from Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Eric Spoonmore, who is their former colleague, and Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin. The two gave a somewhat longer version of the proposal that county commissioners had heard during public commentary at their regular meeting last Wednesday. Continue reading “County council warm to Bloomington’s pitch for convention center transfer”

Fourth of July parade with protest in the mix “quintessentially Bloomington”

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.”

The protest was organized by Students for a New Green World, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Continue reading “Fourth of July parade with protest in the mix “quintessentially Bloomington””

Annexation fight: Strong signature counts in all areas as deadline passes, wait starts for final tally

The close of the business day on Thursday marked an end to the 90-day period of remonstration against the decision by Bloomington’s city council in late September 2021 to annex seven separate territories into the city.

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.

But Smith said she would love for the signature validation process for all the areas to be wrapped up by the end of January. If not, she would like it to be done by mid-February. Continue reading “Annexation fight: Strong signature counts in all areas as deadline passes, wait starts for final tally”

Houseless advocates march from Seminary Park to People’s Park to protest clearance from public spaces

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The clearance of an encampment at Bloomington’s Seminary Park in early December and again last week prompted on Monday the second protest in as many nights.

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.

Protesters left soon after that, and as of 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the tent was still there. Another second, larger one had been added. Continue reading “Houseless advocates march from Seminary Park to People’s Park to protest clearance from public spaces”

Monroe County commissioners order sheriff to enforce laws on courthouse lawn curfew, camping

An executive order from Monroe County’s three-member board of county commissioners, adopted at their regular Wednesday meeting, directs the sheriff to enforce two existing ordinances regulating how the courthouse grounds are used.

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Monroe County’s sheriff Brad Swain (right) and a deputy next to the Alexander Memorial at the southeast corner of the courthouse square around 2:15 a.m. on June 10, 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

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 …”

Protests nationwide and locally were prompted by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women. Floyd was killed on May 25 by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, when the police officer pinned Floyd down with a knee-on-neck hold, a scene that was caught on video. Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners order sheriff to enforce laws on courthouse lawn curfew, camping”

Photos: “Enough is Enough”

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.)

Photos: June 5, 2020

 

Police killing of Black man in Minneapolis sparks protest in Bloomington, Indiana; march and call for action planned for next week by others

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Protesters take a knee in the middle of College Avenue next to the Monroe County jail on Friday evening and observe “seven minutes of silence.” The seven-minute period was chosen to match early media reports of the timespan during which the Minneapolis police officer had pinned his knee on George Floyd’s neck, which killed the 46-year-old Black man. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

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 west 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.

An event scheduled for next Friday, June 5, led by Indiana University Black student leaders Selena Drake and Salina Tesfagiorgis, is planned to start at Dunn Meadow, and make its way to the courthouse. Drake is studying law and public policy. Tesfagiorgis is a masters student at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Continue reading “Police killing of Black man in Minneapolis sparks protest in Bloomington, Indiana; march and call for action planned for next week by others”

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”