opinion

OPINION: Bloomington chose to protect white supremacy in Schooner Creek debacle



farmers-market

Tom Westgard carries a sign Nov. 9 through the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market in protest of Schooner Creek Farm, whose owners have been tied to a white nationalist group. Ty Vinson

On July 25, 2019, IU professor Cara Caddoo was arrested for protesting a vendor run by white supremacists at the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market based on informal rules against organizing on market grounds. After Caddoo took legal action against the city, these informal rules were formalized at a Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

This points to an uncomfortable truth: Bloomington would rather protect white supremacists than civil rights.

In 2019, the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market attracted protests after it was revealed that vendor Schooner Creek Farm was run by Sarah Dye, who has ties to white nationalist group American Identity Movement, formerly known as Identity Evropa. As a result of the protests, new rules passed Tuesday will be enforced during the market to limit where and how activists can spread their message.

The meeting attracted its own protest, with activists taking time to comment on every agenda item ahead of the market rules item itself. 

“If a white supremacist from the American Identity Movement shot someone in the market, would IU Health be tasked with mopping up the blood?” said activist Charles Bonds during an allotted two-minute speaking time on the subject of IU Health insurance plans.

The meeting reached a fever pitch, to the point that a ten-minute break was called in order to rearrange agenda items such that the farmers market rule change could be addressed sooner.

“What we’re seeing here is a calamity of errors," Trent Feuerbach said. “The city government tried to silence Cara Caddoo, and now she’s a political problem for them.” Feuerbach is a candidate for Indiana State Senate, District 40.

According to an email from No Space For Hate, Sarah Dye will likely return to the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market in June. This means further protests are probable, though with the new rules, more arrests are also to be expected.

Dye is an active member of both the Bloomington farmers market and the white nationalist group, American Identity Movement. While Dye has posted online implying a desire for white separatism, the group she’s a part of is much more blunt with its racism. 

The American Identity Movement is the reformed Identity Evropa. In 2017, Identity Evropa orchestrated the posting of white supremacist posters around IU, specifically targeting the Latino Studies, and the African American and African Diaspora Studies departments.

Additionally, Identity Evropa was involved in organizing the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, also in 2017. That rally is infamous for a terrorist attack that killed activist Heather Heyer, a counter-protester who came to the rally to oppose the white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Just in case the point hasn’t been made clear enough, the American Identity Movement is identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

Multiple activists said Tuesday that Dye may be actively recruiting for her white supremacist organization even if she’s not allowed to distribute physical propaganda, and that free protest is the only way they have to counter those efforts.

“I think white supremacy is a terrible ideology, and it’s an aberrant thing when it arises,” said Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton in an interview with WTIU.

Hamilton was not in attendance at the Tuesday meeting.

Feuerbach said he would love to see more politicians speak out about the issue.

If the mayor truly thought white supremacy was aberrant, then the city wouldn’t be taking steps to protect Schooner Creek from protest. If people of color and those who stand with people of color are not allowed to exercise their right to free speech in opposition to racism in Bloomington, then Hamilton is catastrophically failing his own principles.

”Our friendly, safe and inviting environment embraces visitors and ideas from across the globe,” reads the Bloomington city website

Among the ideas being embraced, apparently, is white supremacy.

Liam O'Sullivan (he/him) is a senior studying film and is an editor-in-chief of the Hoosier Flipside. He will stop at nothing to direct a Star Wars movie.

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