Not In Our Town

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

(This story has been edited to include comments from Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner and McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers.) 

What is it like to currently file a complaint of officer misconduct with the Bloomington Police Department?

Sophie Charles and Henry Dick, a couple from West Bloomington, did just that. They said they came away from the experience dissatisfied with the results and reluctant to approach the police in the future.

WGLT

Community support is mounting for an independent, citizen-led review board to monitor the actions of the Bloomington Police Department.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

The local chapter of Black Lives Matter is proposing a citizen-led review board to monitor and weigh in on the actions of the Bloomington Police Department.

Colleen Reynolds / GLT News

A new report on inequality in Bloomington-Normal shows that poor and minority residents live in neighborhoods that have more noise and air pollution, less quality housing, fewer places to buy fresh, healthy food, and less transportation opportunities.

Johnny Silvercloud / Creative Commons

Bloomington and Normal neighborhoods are more racially integrated than those of several other Illinois cities, including Peoria, Champaign, Urbana, Springfield, Rockford and Decatur.

Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

A Facebook group called "Bloomington Deserves Better Than Kevin Lower" is attacking the mayoral candidate for a 3-year-old response to an alleged racist post on a page titled the Marcus Garvey Society.

On the page was a comment suggesting that "if African Americans really wanted to escape racism, it might be time for them to move to the land of the ancestors."

Not In Our Town Rally Stresses Unity

Feb 1, 2017
Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Many Twin Cities residents and politicians are voicing their concern over President Donald Trump's immigration order. 

More than 1,100 people filled the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts Wednesday night for a community solidarity rally sponsored by Not In Our Town.

Staff / WGLT

The Not In Our Town movement in Bloomington Normal is objecting to the Muslim ban and borders the Trump administration has closed for people from seven nations.

Mike Matejka of Not in Our Town said there will be a solidarity rally Wednesday.

Two religious leaders hold hands on sanctuary
Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

Leaders from five area religious denominations came together last night for what is becoming a hallmark of Bloomington-Normal’s Not In Our Town efforts -- a bringing together of all faiths and even those questioning their faith. This time it was for prayer service, including a reading of names and moment of silence for victims and the families of shooting victims in Dallas, Minnesota and Louisiana.

The Reverend Frank McSwain from Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington delivered a fiery message in which he called racism a moral issue.

Ralliers with signs
Colleen Reynolds / WGLT

It was a march, a rally and a celebration rolled into one as some of the original founders and many new to the cause marked the 20th anniversary of Bloomington-Normal’s Not in Our Town movement in downtown Bloomington last night.

National Not In Our Town leader Patrice O'Neill said Bloomington-Normal has presented a model for community unity.

Terrorist attacks can occur in any city, but a leader of the local Muslim community says he believes one like the mass shooting at a gay night club in Orlando this weekend might be less likely to happen here.

Sheheryar Muftee of the Islamic Center of Bloomington-Normal says local Muslims are a tight-knit community that rejects violence.

Fibonacci Blue / Creative Commons

The mass shooting in Orlando this weekend could end up adding to a culture of fear and exclusion that seems to be sweeping the country during  this election cycle, according to Rev. Kelley Becker of the First Christian Church of Bloomington.

Tim Evanson / Flickr

In the wake of the deadly terror attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando one leader in the gay community said he's feeling hopeful.

David Bentlin is the President of the Prairie Pride Coalition Board. The group is dedicated to the implementation of full civil rights protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

Twenty years after the first Not In Our Town National Gathering took place in Bloomington to fight hate and intolerance, members say there is is an even greater need today for the organization's grass roots, community-building efforts.

NIOT member Mike Matejka said the recent presidential race and the rash of police killings of African Americans have created tensions within many communities.

jelm6 / Creative Commons

Chicago has experienced a  70 percent increase in gun violence so far this year. What happens to the people left behind --the survivors -- and those who live in daily terror of the cross fires? 

Part Two of our series on Chicago's struggle with guns and gangs explores how a group called Chicago Survivors helps those left behind.

Aberdeen Proving Ground / Creative Commons

Six candles will be lit Thursday night at Bloomington's Moses Montefiore Temple, representing the six million people who perished in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust. Prayers will also be said honoring the dead.

The local event is timed to coincide with the annual Yom HaShoah remembrance service taking place in Israel.

The service will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is open to the public.

Johnny Silvercloud / Creative Commons

The Black Lives Matter movement has been seen widely as an African American movement focused on eradicating police brutality. But that's not the whole story, according to Dontae Latson, chief executive officer of the McLean County YWCA.

Majeed Sayed

Earlier this week, President Obama visited a Baltimore mosque to signal he wants Americans to increase their understanding of Muslims living in the U.S. On Saturday, one of the three Twin Cities mosques will hold an open house where non-Muslims can join in prayer and ask questions about Islam.

The 40th annual Martin Luther King Junior Awards in Bloomington Normal will feature 13 nominees. Four winners will be announced January 16th at ISU's Bone Student Center. Two adults and two high school students will be recognized for promoting tolerance and understanding.

In the running are students: Marcus Brooks, Rahul Vudaru, Veena Yeleswarapu, Rachek Beck, Keerthi Amballa, Amanda Breeden, Amari Funderburg, and Helen Steinbacher-Kemp.

Adult contenders for the honor include: Mary Aplington, Arlene Hosea, Marcos Mendez, Jesse Padilla, and Arthur Haynes.

IPR

Police have asked the F-B-I to investigate a Nazi flyer mailed to an African-American homeowner this week. It happened in Leland Grove, a small, wealthy suburb of Springfield. Dan Ryan is the police chief.

WGLT Staff

Members of the Muslim community in Bloomington Normal say they greatly appreciate the Not In Our Town interfaith solidarity event outside the old McLean County Courthouse in downtown Bloomington. Mohammed Zaman is one such member.

Zaman says he has not seen a Bloomington Normal anti Muslim backlash to the Paris or San Bernardino shootings, though there is some concern about the level of anti muslim rhetoric in the public arena. He says Muslims in the twin cities recognize that kind of speech is an attempt to use fear to capitalize on a political situation.

NIOT.org

The Not In Our Town Movement in Mclean County says enough with the anti-Muslim rhetoric already. Not In Our Town is sponsoring an interfaith community solidarity event. Reverend Kelley Becker of First Christian Church in Bloomington says God loves and accepts everyone of all faiths.

Becker says it is troubling to her that people are using fear to further political campaigns.

She says stereotyping of groups such as Muslims is not acceptable.