This week, Bloomington Police began to occupy People’s Park, heightening policing and surveillance, harassing community members into leaving the park, and preventing food sharing and basic habitation of the park. This recent increase in police intimidation is part of a larger effort to drive poor people out of public spaces so that commerce can continue without interruption. Meanwhile, new luxury condos are built across the street. The social cleansing process enacted by the BPD aims to eradicate homeless people through constant intimidation, without addressing the root causes of homelessness in Bloomington.
For more than 50 years, People’s Park has been a vital space for political action, historical memory, and struggle in Bloomington. Shortly after the KKK firebombed a black social center, The Black Market, located on the park’s land in 1968, People’s Park was founded as a space of leisure and refuge open to all people, not just to the rich and white. Given this history, we must all do our part to ensure that People’s Park remains available to everyone.
Let’s celebrate the history of People’s Park and our ongoing diversity. Let’s stand together, eat together, and enjoy music together! We won’t allow the police to harass and arrest the most vulnerable members of the Bloomington community. Now’s our time to make sure that People’s Park lives up to its name — a place for everyone, for all people.
Come one, come all: workers, students, people without homes, non-human animal companions! Bring your game faces and your appetites.
Arts & Crafts (folks should feel inclined to bring lots of chalk)
Bring a dish/drink/food supplies if you can, and be creative in whatever other materials you feel it would be fun and/or useful to have.
Let’s make sure Bloomington stays the way we like it: full of space for folks with unique needs, creative and experimental.
Please forward widely and share the attached flyer online and in print!
Reposted from Plain Words:
Breaking away from the jail demo tradition, we kicked off the new year with something fresh and exciting. At the stroke of midnight we dropped four banners and let five thousand fliers rain down from two downtown parking garages. United with friends, we reveled in the togetherness we will carry with us into the new year. 2016 was shitty and we expect that 2017 will be as well; however, we recognize the need to continue fighting. With these modest acts, we sharpened coordination practices that we will need in the coming months and years. Each of the banners reflects an element of our revolt we intend to strengthen and spread over the next year – combative memory for our fallen fighters, solidarity with our imprisoned comrades, determination to continue fighting no matter what is thrown at us, and struggle against immediate manifestations of power.
As December ends, we also take time to remember the lives of our fallen warriors. William Avalon Rodgers was an Earth liberationist who took his own life on December 21, 2005 while in jail awaiting trial on arson charges. Kuwasi Balagoon was a former Black Panther, fighter in the Black Liberation Army, bisexual, and anarchist who died in prison from medical neglect due to AIDS-related illness on December 13, 1986.
December 2016 marks 11 years since Avalon’s death and 30 since Kuwasi’s. We will not allow those who sacrificed everything for freedom to be forgotten. As we continue our struggles against Power, we keep alive the memory of Kuwasi, Avalon, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, Sebastián Oversluij, Lambros Foundas, Mauricio Morales, Feral Pines, and all of our other comrades who have passed on. Memory, like fire, burns our enemies and keeps us warm.
We are consistently inspired by Marius Mason’s spirit and take strength from each of his paintings, poems, and letters. In an attempt to return the favor, we also chose to highlight his acts this New Year’s Eve. For many years, Marius lived and took action in Bloomington and we intend to maintain the passion and fighting spirit that he once embodied here.
As a quaint college town and liberal bastion in a red state, Bloomington’s iteration of state violence often takes the form of closing off public space to undesirable populations to maintain a sterile, commerce-friendly environment. One of the primary targets of this cleansing is the sizable homeless population. The city has deployed social worker cops, signs discouraging giving money to people on the street, and several new security cameras in popular hangouts like People’s Park. Despite their language of safety and compassion, we know that the city government has no interest in genuine solutions to the problems of poverty, unaffordable housing, and addiction; in reality, it exists to manage and police the conditions that create these problems. We have made a choice to not fall for the soft policing of the non-profits and charities that are in the pocket of the city.
Whatever 2017 brings, we plan to face it head on.
From the Herald-Times:
By Jonathan Streetman
A community discussion about how to best serve people experiencing homelessness and to make downtown Bloomington safe for all was interrupted Saturday morning by those who felt they had been left out of the discussion altogether.
The working meeting at City Hall, which was announced by the city in a news release 48 hours prior, is part of an ongoing process organized by the Community Justice and Mediation Center as part of the Downtown Safety, Civility and Justice Initiative launched by Mayor John Hamilton in August.
Stage one identified perceptions of the challenges, and stage two
explored potential action ideas in response to these perceived problems, according to a city news release. The third stage, which was Saturday’s public input conversation, did not go off as planned.
As CJAM members were providing the crowd, which filled the Council Chambers to capacity, with updates on the first two stages and then began to discuss the meeting’s agenda, Nicci B of The Equity Collective and about a dozen other group members stood up to read a prepared statement.
The Equity Collective, Nicci said, believes that the task force
assembled is not representative of the Bloomington community, nor is it objective. This process, she continued, should have involved more of the people who are actually affected by the issues being discussed.
“This initiative has failed to position the needs of our community’s
most disenfranchised members as central to the conversation itself, as evidenced by a mediation process that has thus far produced a collection of ‘action ideas’ that largely ignore the root causes of poverty, addiction and other vulnerabilities,” the statement read. “Instead, the proposed strategies overwhelmingly advance business interests through the unjust criminalization and stigmatization of those whose safety is most at risk. We, The Equity Collective, cannot help but wonder whether the Safety, Civility, and Justice Initiative is only meant to serve
those who can afford it.”
The group also took umbrage with the fact that community members were only given 48 hours’ notice, a fact CJAM volunteer Lisa-Marie Napoli agreed was unfortunate. Napoli said she would address timeliness of announcements in the future.
“When we are dealing with people’s futures, we deserve more than 48 hours and zero information,” Nicci said in response.
The disruption continued for about 10 minutes as group members took turns reading the statement. During that time many individuals who had come to participate in the working meeting left the chambers and entered the hallway, where stations had been set up by the center to discuss a variety of issues, including housing, education, mental health, police relations and addictions and abuse.
By the time Nicci and the others finished reading the statement, the room had largely emptied.
About 50 individuals continued with the meeting in discussion groups, while Nicci and others continued to discuss their points with organizing members in the lobby. Members of the Equity Collective then left City Hall with about an hour and a half left in the meeting.
Napoli said she was disappointed that members of the disrupting group didn’t want to participate in Saturday’s discussion.
“This process was designed to be an inclusive process to all community members, to take a look at some starting ideas of solutions to discussing downtown safety and civility issues and to build on those,” said Napoli, who helped create the three-stage process before handing over their report to the task force. The discussions, she added, would also allow community members to grab onto ideas about what they can do at their level to make a difference.
“I respect democracy; I respect the voice and people’s right to protest. It’s ironic because this meeting is wholly designed to be inclusive,” she said.
Napoli said there was an entire open space in the lobby designed to
discuss new ideas that weren’t on CJAM’s list, and that the Equity
Collective’s list of demands would have been discussed there, if Napoli had been allowed to run the meeting as she had planned.
The center will now forward all information gathered to the Safety,
Civility and Justice Task Force for further study. Hamilton has asked that recommendations be made to him by early April 2017.
From the H-T:
Signs encouraging people to donate to nonprofit organizations rather than give to panhandlers were up for less than a week before most of them came down — and not with the city’s permission.
The city put up 28 signs last week around the downtown area that read, “Please help. Don’t encourage panhandling. Contribute to the solution. www.bloomington.in.gov/give.”
The web page includes a list of social service agencies that directly
provide services, including shelter/housing and food assistance, medical services, drug addiction treatment and education/workforce assistance, to those in need.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, 24 of those signs were missing, Mary
Catherine Carmichael, Bloomington’s communications director, said.
“We don’t know exactly under what circumstances they came down,” Carmichael said, though she added several businesses in the area have external surveillance systems that may have captured footage of whoever took the signs.
Carmichael said the city would like for the people who took the signs down to return them, but city officials will have additional signs created, if necessary.
Meanwhile, the city is looking at the incident as vandalism and will
deal with it as such.
“My hope would be that whoever did that might think better of their actions and decide maybe that wasn’t such a good idea, and, again, we would appreciate it if those were returned,” Carmichael said.
A call out to discuss resistance to the city’s recent attempts at social cleansing in People’s Park. The DRO Police have instructed churches not to offer food to park denizens, have chased away citizens offering clothes and lunch, have attempted to target and ban Food Not Bombs, have threatened to chase out a local Street Outreach Project and have requested that the Indiana Recovery Alliance cease doing outreach early next month.
The mayor and police recently announced a plan to increase police
presence, which led to park sweeps and the arrest of multiple
“problematic” people just before the students returned. The police have also promised to install cameras to increase surveillance.
Of course, the city has offered no alternatives for food on Sunday
evenings, services over the weekend or space to exist without harassment for those they who will be negatively affected. Just the continuation of the criminalization of poverty, addiction and homelessness. City officials want our friends to disappear, or perhaps to float away on balloons, as a dear friend suggested years ago.
Join us before this event at 5:30pm for a presentation with Jesse Speer about homeless encampments and resistance in the Persimmon Room in the Indiana Memorial Union, then we’ll move to the Park by 7pm to discuss next steps.