Ian Stark, a 24 year old man experiencing homelessness, froze to death Tuesday night in Bloomington, IN. In response, 50-70 people took the streets on Friday night with torches, banners, spray paint and fireworks to express rage over Ian’s death. The unruly mob, mostly masked up, was comprised of anarchists, anti-prison activists, students, homeless folks, social workers, and others who knew Ian.
The march held the streets for nearly two hours, covering almost all of downtown. Participants in the march disabled several dozen parking meters, wrote graffiti, paint-bombed banks, popped tires, and distributed hundreds of fliers about Ian’s death, homelessness, and policing in Bloomington. Participants also took the opportunity to run into several yuppie restaurants and rain fliers on the passive diners.
Despite several rounds of toe-to-toe conflict with uniformed police, the emergence of at least three undercovers, and interference from a mega-douchey citizen-cop during the course of the march, we stayed tight and found our way back into the streets, lighting more torches and fireworks. No one was arrested.
Ian’s death comes at a tense time in Bloomington. Conversations about policing, surveillance and homelessness are common, as the city has recently announced that the revenue from new parking meters will fund downtown police foot-patrols and new surveillance cameras. The city aims to curb the unsightly presence of homeless people downtown, redirecting them toward social services.
From a flier distributed during the march:
“…When the city unendingly talks about the “problem of homelessness in Bloomington,” they are talking about an eyesore, an abstract liability for downtown business and the ballooning dreams of developers.
When we talk about the “problem of homelessness in Bloomington,” we’re talking about constant police harassment, the veiling of poverty, and people being turned away from shelters in below zero temperatures.
In short: we’re talking about a person freezing to death.
We’re not here in the streets tonight to beg for compassion from the cops or an increased pittance from social service agencies.
As augmented police presence, surveillance and other mechanisms of social control are deployed against the most vulnerable segments of Bloomington’s population, we too feel the effects.
Their dreams of a controlled, sanitized city will never come to pass!”
Printable copy of the text distributed during the march (print double-sided, long edge): never!
An account and analysis found elsewhere and reposted here:
This past Friday (October 26), a small but wily group of anarchists and other angries took to the streets in a show of solidarity with those facing state repression. The specific call out for the march was to express solidarity with Grand Jury resisters Matt, Maddy, and KteeO, to rally against the criminalizing of the homeless population in Bloomington, and to convey ongoing solidarity with those who still carry charges from the anti-prison noise demo last new years.
Music blared as we took the streets downtown, holding together in tight formation. Pairs and threes sporadically broke away from the group to hand out fliers, wheatpaste posters, put up stickers, confront journalists, or set off small fireworks. We made a quick stop to yell at the jail, and then made our way south, taking all three lanes of College Ave. At this point, undercover cops who had been zigzagging around town on foot tailing the march grabbed two comrades, one of whom was in the process of spray painting “BURN THE PRISONS” on a wall. The two were quickly de-arrested and made getaways, much to the chagrin of the burly undercovers. Unable to put any humans behind bars, they settled for snatching and destroying our sound cart.
Shaken but undeterred, the march quickly regrouped and lit torches. Confronted with flaming torches and angry chants, the undercover cops quickly retreated and were replaced by other police followed from a distance. A few bar-goers bolstered our spirits as they popped out to shout Fuck the police! Our voices held strong with chants and yells until we approached a punk venue, shouting The punks: up ’em! The pigs: fuck ’em! A crowd of excited punks greeted us as the door, many expressing sadness that they had missed out on the fun. Despite blaring sirens and the appearance of even more cops, we were able to safely disperse among the crowd waiting for the show outside. Read the rest of this entry
We’re excited by the lovely account that follows of Bloomington graffiti and the author’s demolition of the city’s bullshit explanations for buffing all the throw-ups, tags and stencils. More analysis of this caliber please! But we also have to say that for us, the struggle against the economy is always already criminal, and the author fails to question certain basic assumptions regarding the state’s use of the term “criminality.”
Boredom engenders violence. The ugliness of buildings excites vandalism. -Raoul Vaneigem
This story could be told in many ways, but I will begin at the Third Street Bridge. It is an old railroad tressel bridge, long forgotten by the passenger trains that once coursed through our southern Indiana town. The rails were pulled after the last freight engine left the McDoel Switchyard in 2004. Wooden ties, scattered and black, littered the edges of meadow and wood that crept just up to the railway. The track ballast left a gravel path, the only marker of the train’s long trek through the abandoned corridor. When I moved into McDoel Gardens neighborhood in 2006, I walked to town as the train once ran—from the McDoel Switchyard (Planning PDF), north through the old industrial area, past wooded lots and backs of hotels, over the Third Street bridge, to the city center. So it was: weed and bramble and building backs, a path, a bridge. Read the rest of this entry