BY CARMEN SIERING
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RODNEY MARGISON
With hate crimes at their highest national level in years and mass shootings occurring with horrifying regularity, this anti-racism, pro-diversity organization has regrouped and is ready to respond to acts of prejudice and intolerance in our community.
It is no secret that even as he announced his run for the presidency in June 2015, Donald Trump was presenting himself as a different kind of candidate. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. . . . They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he stated that day, establishing the tenor not only for his campaign but for the country.
In the month following Trump’s election in November 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported more than 1,000 incidents of bias-related harassment and intimidation. Many in the country feel there has been a shift in the national demeanor—that those who may have quietly harbored negative sentiments toward minorities now sense a tacit approval to voice and act upon those feelings. Bloomington has been spared violence, but there have been a number of instances of vandalism intended to intimidate.
The Bloomington Human Rights Commission Hate Incidents Report for June 1, 2016, to December 31, 2017, noted several cases of hate-related vandalism since Trump’s election. In November 2016, someone spray-painted swastikas and the letters “KKK” on the B-Line Trail and on light poles. In February 2017, numerous flyers and posters from a white nationalist group were posted on the Indiana University campus. In October, racially offensive graffiti, including the letters “KKK” and images of swastikas, were found at the East 10th Street underpass, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, the intersection of College Mall Road and Sare Road, and the railway underpass at College and 14th Street. These were public offenses; other incidents aimed at individuals also occurred.
In light of the increase in hate, a group that formed in response to a local crisis in the 1990s has become active once again. Bloomington United is back.
In February, 2012, PBS aired the special, Not In Our Town: Class Actions, with a segment on Bloomington. Watch what our city has done to fight hate in this video: