Bloomington’s Order to Occupiers to Vacate People’s Park Reeks of Political Opportunism
For nearly ninety days, Occupy Bloomington has been occupying People’s Park in Bloomington just blocks away from the Indiana University campus. They have been bringing the message of the 99% to a college town. But now their effort faces a significant setback as Mayor Mark Kruzan has occupiers evicted by noon today.
I have been following all news related to Occupy closely since September 17 and I visited Occupy Bloomington on my Midwest tour of occupations in late October. As far as I could tell, the city was politically more permissive toward Occupy Bloomington than most cities. To have lasted into 2012 like they have done, the city would have to be on some level respectful of their First Amendment rights to be in the park.
What did it then? Why is the mayor pushing through with the eviction?
On New Year’s Eve, according to AP, Kruzan cites an incident that took place where “three people were arrested and three police officers [were] hurt Sunday during scuffles at the park.” After the incident, Kruzan announced that he was “reconsidering whether to support allowing Occupy protesters” to stay in the park.
Occupy Bloomington disputes the city’s version of what happened on New Year’s Day. The occupation reports they were holding an “impromptu dance party” on the streets of Bloomington. They “roved” through downtown and “descended upon the Monroe County Jail where they danced in the New Year and spoke out against the prison industrial-complex.”
There apparently was also a banner drop off the top of the Hilton Garden Inn. The banner read “Break Your Chains. The party moved on to “College and Third St., where the patrons from nearby bars empty into the streets.” At about 1 am, the party was about to disperse when “a small group of people were targeted by the Bloomington Police Department. Three individuals were tackled from behind and violently arrested. Force was used by officers despite compliant behavior.” [cont’d.]