White nationalist concerns prompt Bloomington to suspend farmers market

(Photo by the City of Bloomington)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market has been suspended for two weeks due to concerns about public safety, the City of Bloomington announced Monday.

The concerns stem from alleged ties between a vendor at the market and white nationalism.

“As Mayor, I have spoken for our city to condemn white nationalism and white supremacists as a scourge on our country and our community, and to promise that we will do all we can to overcome their legacies and any current efforts,” said Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton.  “We also want to assure that everyone knows that all are welcome in our inclusive Bloomington, and that our Farmers’ Market will embody those values of inclusion and welcoming, as well as be a safe space for all to gather, as our community expects every Saturday.”

The city says they’ve taken several steps over the past few weeks to address the challenges brought by the presence of the vendor, including increased safety patrols, increased market staffing, community-wide forums, the support of nonviolent protests in accord with market rules and engagement with the vendor community.

Bloomington cites the escalation of tension and conflict at the market, and the identification of threats of individuals with connections to past white nationalist violence, as having the potential for “future clashes.”

“In light of recommendations from our local public safety officials, advice from national experts, and awareness of recent tragic incidents of violence at similar public gatherings, we are hitting the pause button to protect public safety in Bloomington. We will be gathering with a wide range of local folks to identify how best our community embodies our values of justice and inclusion, and protects our treasure of the Farmers’ Market,” said Mayor Hamilton.

On Saturday morning, a protester was arrested for “holding a sign and pacing in front of a vendor booth.” Police say they were called to the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market and advised by staff from the Parks and Recreation Department that they wanted the officers to make contact with the protester to reiterate their requests for her to move to a designated protest area.

Officials say it is a longstanding practice that pamphleting or displaying signage is not permitted in the vendors’ area, and that the Parks and Recreation Department repeatedly informed the protester of this.

After denying multiple requests from police to relocate, the protester was told that she would be placed under arrest for criminal trespass if she did not move to the designated protest area, according to the Bloomington Police Department. The protester stated that she was unwilling to move and was taken into custody.

She was taken to the Monroe County Jail without incident and faces a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass.

Bloomington police did not release the identity of the protester.

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