The Bloomington City Council met Jan. 18 to discuss potentially relocating the Bloomington Police Department and passed a resolution to call for the end of the embargo against Cuba. The council also read a statement condemning the recent racially motivated stabbing of an 18-year-old.
Council debates purchase of Showers Building for new police headquarters
The council heard several perspectives on whether to expand or relocate BPD headquarters. After more than an hour of debate, the council decided to postpone the matter to next week.
In December, the council approved a bond of up to $29,500,000 to fund public safety capital projects, particularly regarding the proposed expansion or relocation of the BPD headquarters. Mayor John Hamilton hopes to use the funds for the purchase and renovation of part of the Showers Building to become the new BPD headquarters, as well as house fire department administrative offices.
Deputy Mayor Mary Carmichael said the mayor does not want to expand the current BPD headquarters. She said the current location does not have enough space for an adequate expansion.
City Police Chief Michael Diekhoff agreed, saying the current location leaves the department landlocked. He said the department needs more space.
Councilmember Sandberg stated her opposition to relocating the police to the Showers Building.
“I’m not seeing the function of us all needing to be under the same roof again, singing Kumbaya out by water cooler when that's not what a police department does,” Sandberg said.
The president of the local Fraternal Order of Police Paul Post said polling of officers also showed overwhelming opposition to relocating to the Showers Building. Post cited issues with the location such as in the cost of renovation and issues accessing maintenance. Another FOP representative elaborated that proximity to the B-Line Trail would make it difficult to navigate pedestrian traffic.
The city responds to racially-motivated stabbing on Jan. 11
Before proceeding with the agenda, President Sue Sgambelluri read a statement condemning the racially motivated stabbing of an 18-year-old Asian-American woman on a Bloomington Transit bus on Jan. 11.
“Like many of our neighbors and colleagues, we are shocked by this incident, and we are deeply concerned about a climate in which some of our residents feel unsafe,” she read from the statement.
The statement reiterated the council’s condemnation of white supremacy and white nationalism and affirmed support for the Asian and Asian-American community of Bloomington.
City calls for the end of the embargo on Cuba
The city council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the end of the U.S. embargo on Cuba. The text of the resolution will now be sent to the president and the Indiana Congressional Delegation for their consideration.
In 1998, Bloomington passed a resolution to establish a sister city in Santa Clara, Cuba. The project, called CUBAmistad, continues to advocate for an end to the embargo on Cuba and normalization of U.S.- Cuban relations.
Despite wide approval, the issue generated tension from some public commenters, including a man who continued to speak after the time limit despite requests from Sgambelluri to leave the podium. The man said Bloomington should focus on homelessness and drug use instead of talking about Cuba. He occasionally veered off-topic and even suggesting the Jan. 6 riot was planned by antifa.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, antifa is a decentralized group of people opposed to fascism, some of which engage in violence or vandalism, although this is not typical. Several online theorists have speculated that rioters on Jan. 6 were members of the antifa, however this claim is unfounded.
Councilmember Susan Sandberg lamented how the meeting had begun well and had quickly become accusatory.
“I highly resent any implication that this is done for any other reason than respect for people in this community that are standing up for other people,” Sandberg said. “That's what we do here in Bloomington.”