A group of protesters wore purple and waved makeshift purple fans Saturday afternoon at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market to encourage shoppers to boycott Schooner Creek Farm.
The Purple Shirt Brigade is a another group criticizing Schooner Creek and its presence at the market after owner Sarah Dye was connected earlier this summer to a white nationalist movement called the American Identity Movement, formerly Identity Evropa.
“We don’t want the city to forget there are white supremacists in the farmers market,” said Forrest Gilmore, a protester and the Shalom Community Center executive director.
This is the second week in a row that the Purple Shirt Brigade protested at the market.
Around noon, Gilmore and his group pulled out different sized pieces of sturdy purple paper, some smaller than a notecard and others bigger than a standard sheet of computer paper, attached to flat sticks.
They had no writing on them, and group members claimed they were hand fans as they walked up and down the aisle where Schooner Creek’s booth is set up.
People wore T-shirts with a Cornel West quote on the front that reads "justice is what love looks like in public" and "boycott Schooner Creek defund white supremacy" on the back.
Market rules prohibit blocking vendors, holding signs in the main market area and the general disruption of market commerce.
A market official said clothing with messages are not banned from the market, including the shirts the Purple Shirt Brigade wore. The signs, however, toed the line for city leaders and Market Ambassadors who quickly became involved.
Leslie Brinson, community events manager for the city’s parks and recreation department, walked over to members of the group when she realized they were walking around with the paper squares.
"You know you’re not allowed to have signs at the market,” Brinson said. “I need you to put them away.”
“This is a fan,” a protester told her.
“Then I need to see you fanning,” Brinson said.
Police who were present at the market soon came up to the group. The officers said market officials wanted the protesters to take a longer path through the market if they were going to stay.
The protesters lengthened their path a little more and eventually left before the market ended at 1 p.m.
Near the Schooner Creek booth, a few of the farm's supporters watched the protesters pass by.
Sally Mae Miller of Norman, Indiana, said she came to the market for the first time ever Saturday after talking with some people on Facebook about buying vegetables to show support for Schooner Creek. The 72-year-old stayed throughout most of the market.
Miller said she thought it was wrong that protesters were allowed to stay near the booth even though market rules say political speech must be kept to certain outside areas.
"That's kind of a really mixed message," Miller said.
Behind the stand, Dye continued to sell her produce. When no one was in line, she would take out her phone to document the Purple Shirt Brigade's presence.
“I definitely think it puts a damper on the market,” Dye said. “On the whole market, not just us.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the quote on the back of T-shirts worn by protesters. The IDS regrets this error.