This story has been updated at 3:06 p.m. Feb. 16
After months of protests over farmers’ market vendor Schooner Creek Farm’s ties to white supremacist groups, the business owners announced Friday they are suing the mayor and park officials.
A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court accuses the mayor and park officials of violating the vendors’ constitutional rights.
The lawsuit alleges by making public statements supporting the protesters at the market, Mayor John Hamilton impeded Schooner Creek Farm owners Sarah Dye and Douglas Mackey’s First Amendment rights.
The Bloomington branch of Black Lives Matter called for a boycott Wednesday of the Herald-Times and the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market, according to a statement on its website.
The group asked people to support the Eastside Market, a newer, vendor-run market.
“It is long past time for Bloomingtonians to divest from institutions that promote the destruction of marginalized people,” the Black Lives Matter B-town statement read.
The statement claims the newspaper and city have supported white supremacy. It criticizes a Herald-Times profile of Sarah Dye, a vendor at the market with connection to the American Identity Movement, a white nationalist group. It was published Feb. 2 on the front page of the newspaper.
The Herald-Times’ coverage left out the voices of activist groups opposed to Dye, Black Lives Matter B-town said in the statement. The group called for people to cancel their subscriptions and asked advertisers to no longer work with the newspaper.
Neither the Herald-Times or Black Lives Matter B-town replied to requests for comment.
The statement also criticized the city’s response to Dye's presence at the market.
Black Lives Matter B-town condemned the city for refusing to remove Dye and those who have racist or violent beliefs from the farmers’ market and instead opting to limit the speech of protesters, according to the statement.
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and city staff want people to attend the market, which continues to be run by the city because of parks and recreations staff recommendations, city spokesperson Yaël Ksander said in an email.
“The market contributes to the vitality of Bloomington's downtown,” Ksander said in the email.
Ksander said the market contributes to sustainability goals and help provide livelihoods for the vendors. She also said the city is hoping to talk more with Black Lives Matter and other groups to hear suggestions for the 2020 market.
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