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Occupy Bloomington protesters asked to leave Peoples Park


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By Bailey Loosemore




At noon Thursday, Occupy Bloomington protesters remained in Peoples Park without incident.

Only six tents remained standing, with a few people taking them down and placing them in piles at the back of the park.

Less than 18 hours earlier, Bloomington Police Department officers pinned eviction notices on posts around Peoples Park informing the occupiers that camping there is in violation of the Bloomington municipal code, and the protestors’ belongings must be removed.

Protesters had been living in the park since Oct. 9, 89 days before the eviction.
“We’re the longest running occupation,” said Logan Flores, an Ivy Tech Community College student.

An hour before the park was to be evicted, Flores stood with other protesters, wearing a sign that said, “Where will they go?”

The biggest concern for most occupiers was not the group’s next step. Instead, many questioned where Bloomington’s homeless, who came to know Peoples Park as a safe space, would stay for the rest of the winter.

“The homeless are victimized,” said CW Poole, a self-identified occupier. “They’re kicked out of the shelters and have no place to go in the middle of winter.”

After receiving the notice, protesters convened at City Hall to voice their opinions before nine members of the Bloomington City Council. Protesters in attendance then met in the lobby following the meeting to discuss their next action.

One protester told the group about a board at the park where people could write down their concerns. By the time of the City Council meeting, only two had been mentioned: where would the homeless members’ dogs go and what would they do with the military tent.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, the military tent was nowhere in sight, removed by a group of people eight hours earlier after a dance party inside the 50-foot-long structure. While most of the tents and belongings had been removed by noon, protesters spent the last hour making signs, playing music and waiting for the inevitable — their departure from the park.

But not all protesters thought leaving the park would hurt their cause. Sophomore Peter Oren, a member of Occupy IU, said while some Occupy Bloomington’s members did create working groups to protest outside of Peoples Park, the group’s reliance on occupying the space gave them a bad image.

“The point of occupying is it’s a tactic to draw attention to the issue,” said sophomore Nick Greven, also a member of Occupy IU. “I’ve already heard people talking about having ‘General Assembly’ elsewhere.”

Greven said he agreed with Oren that it was time to move on with other ways to spread the message.

“It’s forcing us to evolve,” Oren said.

— Bailey Loosemore

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Occupier Levi of Bloomington sits on a bicycle while IU students Rachel Deiger and Kelly Thomas meditate on a makeshift bunk bed Thursday in Peoples Park. The Bloomington police argued that all personal belongings had to be cleared out of the park by noon Thursday. Steph Langan Buy Photos

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