Bloomington activists and community members gathered in Dunn Meadow Friday to plan and organize for a protest march Saturday, but the Indiana University police also made an appearance.
Several police staged at the corner of 6th and Indiana Avenue as an officer, surrounded by a group of activists, held a piece of paper while talking. The police wanted tents removed from Dunn Meadow, and also told the group they needed to clear the area so a band could perform at 5 p.m.
Soon members of the Myanmar Student Association at Indiana University began reading statements about the ongoing coup in their country, which has left upwards of 150 dead, according to the United Nations. The last independent newspaper in Myanmar was shut down recently.
As a woman read about the situation in Myanmar IU police began to disassemble and carry away tents in the background. The tents had been pitched without permission of the university. Activists could be heard raising their voices in response to the police, which drowned the woman’s voice.
Dunn Meadow, which has often been the site of protests at IU, will be the starting point Saturday morning at 10 a.m. for the “March Against Madness,” which is partially a protest against the City of Bloomington’s removal of a tent camp in Seminary Park in December, and January. An unhoused member of the community died on the sidewalk near the park in December.
In the backdrop, due to the pandemic, some games in the NCAA basketball tournament are being played across town at Assembly Hall, but IU isn’t in the tournament, and hasn’t been for years.
So, the head basketball coach was fired earlier this week after a donor with deep pockets came up with his 10-million-dollar severance payment. IU has not disclosed the name of the donor. A search has begun for the new coach. Some IU supporters have pointed out any coach’s salary is from a different budget than the rest of IU, and that that NCAA sports and TV contracts bring millions in revenues to universities.
Last month, the City of Bloomington’s city council voted against allowing unhoused members of the community to possibly sleep on city-owned property though citing the cost as one of the reasons. The meeting lasted over 9 hours.
According to HUD, the number of unhoused Americans increased for four years in a row before the pandemic. A report said 39-percent of unhoused Americans are Black, even though they are 13-percent of America’s population.
Meanwhile, the economic hardships of the worst pandemic in over 100 years have shuttered many local small businesses, and also threatens to leave millions more Americans unhoused as they have been unable to pay rent. Some mom and pop landlords may also lose their real estate as they have been unable to collect rent from those tenants and pay their own mortgages.