Bloomington residents join vigil against police brutality

By Taylor Killough, WFIU/WTIU

Friday, August 15, 2014

National Moment of Silence 2014 is a movement inspired on social media to honor victims of police brutality.

About a hundred people gathered at the Bloomington city hall Thursday night for “National Moment of Silence 2014” to honor victims of police brutality.

National Moment of Silence events were held in at least 100 communities across the country in the wake of a recent incident in Ferguson, Missouri, where unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot on Saturday. Since then, local police have been criticized for firing tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds of protestors.

Reverend Andy Kort and his wife, Mihee Kim-Kort, are Presybterian pastors and the primary organizers of the Bloomington event. Rev. Kort says the event was to unite Bloomington residents for peace and justice.

“I think it’s important for the citizens of Bloomington to stand together to gather with those that they know, those that they don’t know, to speak and to be silent, to grieve, to mourn, and to just be together during this very difficult time,” Kort says.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the Missouri Highway Patrol will take control of security in Ferguson, but people across the country are calling for the demilitarization of police, including Bloomington resident Traneisha English.

“The system that is supposed to be put in place and the people that are supposed to be put in place to protect and serve them are not doing that,” English says. “And its absolutely ridiculous and there needs to be a change.”

But Rev. Kort says Thursday’s event was not meant to criminalize cops.

“Its not an anti-police or a protest against police,” Kort says. “Here in Bloomington I think we’re fortunate to have a wonderful police force, and we’re thankful for their work and to have their presence here with us in our community.”

Several people spoke at the event, including Monroe County NAACP president William Vance, Indiana University Ph.D. student Lamont Loyd-Sims, and peace activist David Keppel. Anyone who attended the event was invited to speak about their personal experiences with racism and police brutality.

Bloomington resident Shari Woodbury says she is outraged and fearful following the Ferguson incident. Her husband is black, and Woodbury says she brought their daughter to the event Thursday to show her family’s solidarity.

“I wanted to be here,” she says. “I needed for me to be able to stand up and do something, and when she’s older, I can tell her, we were here together. We are trying to stand with everyone who is vulnerable.”

View more photos of the Bloomington event.

IU experts available to discuss Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, Mo., and its aftermath

By George Vlahakis | IU Bloomington Newsroom
Friday, August 15, 2014

Bloomington, Ind. -- Today, police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., announced the identity of the officer who shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, after nearly a week of protests and clashes between the police and residents and the media. Faculty experts at Indiana University offer their comments on the following themes: