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Bloomington protests continue Monday night with downtown march



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A protester holds a sign June 1 on East Third Street. The protest went through the streets as traffic was blocked off. Claire Livingston

Bloomington protests continued Monday evening with a march across downtown as part of the multi-day, nationwide demonstrations condemning police brutality and racial injustice in the United States.

Over the course of five hours, about 150 protesters temporarily shut down roads as they walked to different locations, including around Courthouse Square, in front of the Bloomington Police Department headquarters and through the IU campus.  

They held signs and shouted names of black people who had been needlessly killed by police in recent years. 

Most often, the protesters led their chants with George Floyd, whose May 25 killing in police custody by officer Derek Chauvin sparked the recent protests 

“Say his name,” they demanded.

Then the others: Breonna Taylor. Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. Sandra Bland. Laquan McDonald. Dante Parker. Eric Garner.

Police kept a distant boundary around the protesters throughout the night, driving around to different streets to block off traffic as marchers moved through town. A cyclist who had been riding by after dinner joined in, doing his best to shield streets the police hadn't reached yet as the group marched past.

The protesters remained peaceful as they marched. No major damage, looting or use of force by police has happened during demonstrations in Bloomington, unlike in other places across the country. 

“The only thing we’d be hurting in Bloomington is the people who live here,” one protester told a friend.

But around 8 p.m., a truck with American and Trump 2020 flags flying off the bed began driving toward the crowd, which had moved into the Walnut Street and Kirkwood Avenue intersection before police could block vehicles. Protesters surrounded the truck, screaming anti-Trump chants as the truck drove through the crowd. 

When the driver broke out of the group and accelerated down Walnut, he waved what appeared to be a handgun out his window, according to multiple videos and protester accounts. 

A few protesters tore the flags off the back of the truck. The group lit the Trump 2020 flag on fire and dropped it onto the street.

“This is what democracy looks like,” they chanted.

At another point, two BPD officers tried marching with the group because a couple protesters had asked for their solidarity. However, others didn’t feel comfortable having them there, and the officers soon left to avoid any conflict.

Two IU football players, tight end TJ Ivy and wide receiver Whop Philyor, marched with signs asking “Am I next?”

“The police is supposed to be the glue for all communities,” Philyor said. “They’re not supposed to be killing you.”

Philyor said he talked with IU football coach Tom Allen in the past week about how Allen didn’t have to worry about his son, who is also an IU football player, the way Philyor’s dad worries about him as a young black man.

“My dad shouldn’t have to call me and tell me to be safe every day,” Philyor said. 

Ivy said he has been told since he was a child that he would always have more obstacles because he is black. He said he didn’t feel like he was set up to succeed in the current system.

“My message is this: If this was me and I was the next person dead on the street — from a cop killing me, from police brutality, from racism — would you stand up?” Ivy said.

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