Hate for sale? Market grapples with controversy

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Hate for sale? Market grapples with controversy

Seven Ridges Farm's local vegetables on a recent Saturday.

Seven Ridges Farm's local vegetables on a recent Saturday.

Celie Kreilkamp

Seven Ridges Farm's local vegetables on a recent Saturday.

Celie Kreilkamp

Celie Kreilkamp

Seven Ridges Farm's local vegetables on a recent Saturday.

Celie Kreilkamp, Staff Writer

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If you’ve been paying attention to any local news in the past couple of months, you’ll know that a vendor at our peaceful Bloomington Farmer’s Market was discovered to be connected with a white nationalist group. It’s made waves locally and nationally and brought ethical questions of who, and what values, should have a place in the beloved culture of the Farmer’s Market. It’s even resulted in the two-week suspension of the market because of safety concerns. So if you’ve been living under a rock since July, or maybe just been enjoying your vacation, here is a run-down of the situation.

Local farmers Sarah Dye and Douglas Mackey, who run Schooner Creek Farm, were alleged to be a part of the alt-right group Identity Evropa, though now Dye has publicly declared herself an “Identitarian.” Evropa is a group with neo-nazi origins, connected with the fatal Charlottesville rally where a protestor was killed.

Abby Ang, a doctoral student in IU’s English Department, submitted a letter with over 200 signatures calling for the removal of Schooner Creek Farm.  “[I] thought the city, at least, and the people of Bloomington should… know where their money is going,” Ang said.

The question of what to do with this information has been running through the minds of both vendors and patrons of the Bloomington Farmer’s Market. Many believe that Schooner Creek Farm should not be allowed to participate in the market. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has said that they will sue if the vendor is removed because, technically, they have not violated any laws or rules. 

To make matters more complicated, Antifa, an anti-facism group, counterprotested at the market a couple of weeks ago in response to violent claims made on social media by an alleged neo-nazi. Several citizens have been protesting as well. As a result, Mayor John Hamilton decided to close the market for two weeks, worried about the threats. There are plans to reopen the market this Saturday, the 17th, but with new safety measures such as closing streets around the market and having a larger police presence. Ang doesn’t know how much this will help, but only time will tell. 

These events have really polarized our town lately, and though it’s created huge tension, some people saw it as a galvanizing incident for Bloomington. 

John Kulow of Seven Ridges Farm was asked at the alternative market on Saturday how he’s taken the recent incident. “It’s heartening to see the community coming together, and it’s been really amazing to see everyone organize at two days’ call [for the alternative market],”said Kulow.

As of now, the market is back on a normal schedule. As Mayor John Hamilton put it, we must “confront the remaining challenges of racism and bigotry around and among us” and keep supporting our local farms.

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