Bloomington Protest: Please, let us create a homeless shelter for summer months!

See this, for yesterday’s post on homelessness in Bloomington.

When puppy Shadow and I arrived at People’s Park last night (remember the Occupy camp there?), probably a hundred people were milling about, waiting to march; the “homeless” ones were easily identifed by their burdensome belongings and air of having to “keep it all together and it’s difficult,” and, way too often, cigarettes (I always wonder, how can anyone, much less a homeless person, afford cigarettes? A pack costs what now, $4.50?).

at People's Park sleeping bag


The sign-making groupsign 1 helped to educate me.sign 2
sign 4


The official handout, “Extending Compassion, Expecting Compliance: A Critical Look into the City’s shady practices around Homelessness, Policing, and Social Cleansing (despite what they say in the paper),” gave socio/political/economic context to the phenomenon of homelessness in Bloomington:

“The city government and the Bloomington Police Department recently announced a new initiative to address the complaints of some locals that “they don’t feel sae going into downtown” because Mayor Kruzan claims of “intoxication, vandalism, and panhandling.” This initiative will mean extra police patrols on the B-Line Trail and downtown, resulting in 88 more hours per month of patrolling, surveillance cameras installed on public property, including parking garages, and new record-keeping of police interactions in order to analyze patterns of behavior. To accompany these harsh measures, the city is offering monthly meetings with social service agencies, sensitivity trainings for police, and handing out leaflets containing info on available resources and services instead of making arrests. This is the latest installment of a campaign of sterilization which comes from the logic of “economic development.” See more.

This gentle young man graciously allowed me to photograph him.

black man

Here’s a Eugene Debs tattoo on the arm of a young woman who has been working with the Interfaith Winter Shelter, but did not want a photo of her face, and thanked me for asking.

tattooI was glad to see that the front page article in the local paper appeared largely sympathetic with this event. The article said “over a 100 people” marched. I’d say that by the time we got going,


numbers approached 200,

march past Grill


and as the march trundled past the local jail, participants with signs like “legalize sleeping” started chanting —

“Our passion, our freedom, is stronger than, their prison”

— over and over and over again, in a rhythm that matched the rousing beat of the ragtag, zanily attired band.

band 2


And yes, it rained last night after the march and rally, the first of what is it? 226 nights until the low barrier winter shelter opens again?

And yes, it’s raining now, again, this afternoon.

If you have a spare room or couch or back yard and wish to help house someone who has no home for one night or more, please call this number: 812-339-4456.

Protesters call for low-barrier summer shelter

April 2, 2014

by Abby Tonsing

Jeremy Hogan



Steven Bowling, who said he has been homeless for 20 years, wipes away tears as a speaker acknowledges that the homeless during a rally on the steps of the Monroe County Courthouse. The homeless no longer have a place to sleep after winter shelters have shut down and will trudge into the forest and the mud Tuesday night to set up their tents. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Lamenting the lack of a low-barrier summer homeless shelter, more than a hundred people gathered at Peoples Park, marched through downtown streets and conducted a rally and vigil at the Monroe County Courthouse Tuesday evening.
“We’re going to mourn the loss of safe sleeping,” Indiana University labor studies faculty member Joe Varga said into a microphone after the Jefferson Street Parade Band led the crowd down Kirkwood Avenue, Morton Street, Seventh Street and College Avenue to the courthouse lawn.

The Interfaith Winter Shelter closed its doors for the season Tuesday morning, leaving Bloomington with no low-barrier summer shelter for the homeless.

Angela Riley spent her winter nights sleeping at the Interfaith Winter Shelter.
Those staying with Interfaith Monday night did not acknowledge it was the low-barrier shelter’s last night of the season.

They were “maybe just going with it,” she said. And, they were content with their treat of delivery pizza.

Tuesday evening at Peoples Park, Riley used markers to draw a sun and clouds on her protest sign, reading “Summer shelters. Support and acknowledge our existance (sic).”
She said she planned to scout out a safe place to pitch a tent, “And probably not sleep.”
It took Jonathan “Mohawk” Duncan a week to walk from Jeffersonville to Bloomington recently.

Duncan said he had no idea where he was going to sleep Tuesday night.
He hoped to find a bag big enough to fit inside. His sleeping bag was stolen once he got to town two weeks ago.

Murray Davis sold a laptop so he could afford a room for the night.

“It’s sort of a 24-hour lifestyle, an insecure place to be,” he said.

Fresh oranges bulging out of the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt, Amy Garrison struggled to carry the bags of food and clothing donations she received at Peoples Park. She said she needed to find a secure hiding place in an alley for her belongings before she could join the protest and march.

“A realist would say the chances of a low-barrier summer shelter this year are slim,” homeless advocate Ross Martinie Eiler said, citing financial and zoning concerns.
Still, now’s the time for public and private organizations to discuss the ongoing nature of the problem for Bloomington’s most vulnerable citizens, he said.

Martha’s House and Backstreet Missions provide year-round shelter for the homeless, but those who have been using drugs or alcohol are not admitted. Sex offenders are not allowed, either.

The Genesis Church operated a summer shelter for three years before closing in October 2012 because of dwindling volunteer numbers and overworked, exhausted remaining crews.

Stephanie Waller, an Indiana University junior studying social work, volunteers with the Interfaith Shelter and is a member of the Ubuntu Shelter Working Group. She doesn’t believe that a person needs to be sober to be deserving of a safe place to sleep for the night.
“What’s the point of solving homelessness in the long run if you’re not helping those that are homeless right now?”

A meeting to discuss the issue of Bloomington’s lack of a low-barrier summer shelter has been scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Sacred Heart church at 410 W. Kirkwood Ave.


A.K. again: Here we are, at dusk, after the march, on the corner of Kirkwood and Walnut, Courthouse Square, where protests and rallies are traditionally held. I watched this little girl make her sign.

little girl sign

BTW: Are we surprised? At nightfall, chemtrailed skies eerily haloed the setting sun.

chemtrail 3

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