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Bloomington Farmer’s Market Suspended Two Weeks Over Public Safety Concerns

By Adam Pinsker and Emma Atkinson, IPB News | Published on in Agriculture, Business, Statewide News
Cara Caddoo protests at the Bloomington Farmer's Market, July 27 2019. (Courtesy Dina Okamoto)

The City of Bloomington is suspending the Community Farmer’s Market for two weeks citing a concern for public safety after recent protests and an arrest over suspected ties between a market vendor and a white nationalist group.

A Monday press release says the city has identified “increasing threats to public safety.”

A protester was arrested last weekend at the market amid the presence of several protesters and counter-protesters outside of the Schooner Creek Farms booth.

Schooner Creek owners Sarah Dye and Doug Mackey have been accused of having ties to the white supremacist group Identity Evropa, and have filed several harassment notices connected to the rumors over the past several years.

Weekend Arrest

According to video taken at the scene, Caddoo was holding up a sign near Schooner Creek’s booth that said she had been harrassed by Dye and Mackey.

Bloomington Police Officers approached Caddoo and told her the Bloomington Parks Department did not want her on the property. An officer is heard on the video advising Caddoo to leave the market, or face arrest.

Caddoo declined and was led away in handcuffs. Several people surrounded the police and shouted obscenities at them for taking her into custody.

Caddoo, a history professor at IU, was taken to the Monroe County Jail and released without having to post bond.

“I’m mad as hell,” a protestor who calls herself “Smoove” says. “I mean, why do you need 10 officers to arrest a peaceful protestor?”

Caddoo’s attorney, Geoffrey Grodner, sent a letter to Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and BPD Chief Michael Diekhoff saying his client was “peacefully protesting and not a threat.”

Grodner declined comment and says he’s advising Caddoo not to speak to the media.

In his letter, Grodner wrote that there were several other people near the booth harassing Schooner Creek protestors, and they were not arrested.

Schooner Creek Farms

The city has been under pressure to remove Sarah Dye and Doug Mackey for their alleged connection to white supremacist Nolan Brewer. Brewer, who was sentenced to prison for vandalizing a synagogue in Indiana, told FBI agents he communicated with Dye and Mackey.

The couple run Schooner Creek Farms in Brown County. They’ve occupied a booth at the Bloomington Farmer’s Market since 2012.

READ MORE: Documents Show Embattled Farmer’s Market Vendors Filed Several Harassment Complaints Since 2017

“I join the vast majority of Bloomingtonians in abhorring and unequivocally condemning the odious doctrine of white supremacy”, Mayor Hamilton said in a Facebook post earlier this month.

But the mayor said removing Dye and Mackey from the market would be a violation of their civil rights.

Suspension

“As Mayor, I have spoken for our City to condemn white nationalism and white supremacists as a scourge on our country and our community, and to promise that we will do all we can to overcome their legacies and any current efforts,” Mayor John Hamilton said in the release.

“We also want to assure that everyone knows that all are welcome in our inclusive Bloomington, and that our Farmers’ Market will embody those values of inclusion and welcoming, as well as be a safe space for all to gather, as our community expects every Saturday.”

The release says the city has taken numerous steps to address the conflict, which prompted several public meetings and forums.

It says the city has identified “threats of specific individuals with connections to past white nationalist violence” that “present the potential for future clashes.”

This is the most concrete stance the city has taken on the issue.

Hamilton will hold a press conference about the farmer’s market situation on Wednesday.