Emotions ran high at Bloomington United’s news conference Wednesday morning at City Hall, in which the group announced its renewed effort to fight hate with education and awareness.
“Bloomington United is needed today, and that’s regrettable, but thank goodness it is here,” Mayor John Hamilton said to the roughly 70 attendees, whom he commended for their activism.
“Sometimes it doesn’t feel like that these days. But we are, in the end, indivisible. That’s what these signs are about,” Hamilton said, pointing to a yard sign emblazoned with the motto ‘Hate has no home in our town.’ “That’s what we’re about.”
Hamilton said he was humbled to be speaking as a representative of 85,000 Bloomington residents and its 2 million annual visitors.
“This is the epitome of Bloomington,” Hamilton said. “When Bloomington United began 20 years ago, it was a community rising.”
Bloomington United cochairwoman Sue Silberberg, rabbi at IU Hillel, spoke about the group’s formation in 1998 when a member of a neo-Nazi hate group spread literature across the community. The culprit was later identified as Indiana University student Benjamin Smith, who was influenced by the teachings of an Illinois-based white supremacist group called World Church of the Creator.