NIOT Marchers (Photo Credit: Michael Matejka) Hundreds of Bloomington-Normal residents gathered outside the old courthouse to remember and renew 20 years of grass-roots action to address racism and bigotry. On June 28th, the street festival featured local student performances, a march, screenprinting, speakers, and a participatory dance experience, all to celebrate diversity. Check back for NIOT video story on the event.
Unfortunately, the media headlines published “angry protestors” and “free speech” as the main focus. We were not angry, just full of conviction, and freedom of speech was never the issue. The issue was and always has been to make Bloomington/Normal a community where all people can live without fear of being stereotyped, discriminated against, or feel prejudice.
The Breaking Barriers series kicked off in Bloomington-Normal, IL in January, with the first of several forums to address problems of racism in the Twin Cities. The event was sponsored by Not In Our Town Bloomington-Normal group and the local NAACP, among others. This first event brought out more than 100 people and included at least 50 questions posed to local law enforcement leaders. Specifically, the audience raised questions about the diversity among the four law enforcement agencies represented at the meeting. Minority representation in the local police departments is currently half or less than that of the local population.
The Not In Our Town Bloomington/Normal group will host a police and community dialogue later this month, aiming to raise conversation in the twin cities about police practices, procedures and policies.