May 01--Police descended on an Occupy Bloomington May Day celebration of workers Tuesday morning near the B-Line Trail, dismantling and folding up a giant army tent the group erected on a city-owned grassy lot on Rogers Street between 10th and 11th streets.
About 20 Occupy members -- many wearing black bandannas over their faces -- and approximately 30 police officers from various agencies gathered at the site.
Occupy spokesman Joe Varga said the event was in celebration of May Day and the rights of workers.
Varga called to a group of officers, asking them to join the group by the tent. No one responded to his invitation.
"We want them to understand that we're celebrating all workers," he said.
Varga later asked officers if any were now collecting overtime because of Tuesday morning's police detail. Again, no officers responded.
Bloomington police, Indiana University police, Monroe County sheriff's deputies, Indiana State Police troopers all monitored the situation, when officers noticed the tent was being erected at 8:03 a.m.
Occupy spokeswoman Nicole Johnson said the group had planned to host a "food not bombs May Day feast" under the tent.
One young woman, wearing blue and green pajama pants, held a sign in front of her face that read: "The police protect us from ... tents?! With pepper spray, rubber bullets and guns????"
A sign by the tent, weighted down by a pair of shoes, read: "Really really free market give what you can: Take what you need."
IU student Steve Jackson said he awoke to a text message, telling him that more people were needed at the event and that the police were being intimidating. So, he came.
"I think it's in solidarity of a global day of action. It's bigger than Occupy," Jackson said.
By 9:35 a.m., officers started dismantling the tent.
A Bloomington police evidence technician used a video camera to film the dismantling of the tent and the shouting, and later singing, of the protesters that followed.
Participants did the same with their cell phones.
Bloomington police officer Dana Runnebohm stood at the front of the tent, holding a pepper ball gun.
Several of the participants voiced their dismay at the pepper ball gun, some calling it a paint gun, others calling it a lethal weapon.
Bloomington police chief Mike Diekhoff said the pepper ball gun's, "A tool that we can use with large gatherings when we anticipate there could be potential problems with large crowds." The tent was taken down because it was erected on city property, he said, which is not allowed.
After officers rolled up the tent, about a dozen people huddled together, sat on the tent and began to sing union songs -- looking up lyrics on their smart phones.
By 10 a.m., both police and May Day participants started to pack up and disperse.
No arrests were made.
Police descended on an Occupy Bloomington May Day celebration of workers Tuesday morning near the B-Line Trail, dismantling and folding up a giant army tent the group erected on a grassy lot on Rogers Street between 10th and 11th streets.
About 20 Occupy members -- many wearing black bandannas over their faces -- and approximately 30 police officers from various agencies gathered at the site. Occupy spokesman Joe Varga said the event was in celebration of the rights of workers, and invited the police officers to join in.
At 10 a.m., the group was huddled together, seated on the folded tent, holding signs supporting their movement.
A police officer videotaped the event, and participants did the same with their cell phones.
-- HT reporter Laura Lane contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 - Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.