Category Archives: Issues

Democracy for Monroe County’s Statement on Anti-Black Violence, July 9, 2020

Tolerance Does Not Excuse Racial Oppression and Injustice

In this moment in which the anti-Black violence by both private individuals and agents of the state belies the notion of freedom celebrated over the Independence Day weekend, Democracy for Monroe County (DFMC) stands with BlackLivesMatter Bloomington (BLM-Btown). We strongly support BLM-Btown’s vision, reasoning, and entire list of demands as outlined in their statement which follows. Our remarks on Bloomington’s problem with tolerance follow BLM-Btown’s complete statement:

The Hate We Tolerate: BLM-Btown Statement on Anti-Black Violence, July 6, 2020.

As the long-overdue national recognition that Black lives matter increases, so too does the backlash of anti-Black violence. Bloomington, despite its progressive aspirations, is not immune.

Though the violence Black Bloomingtonians face is often less virulent (and less visible) than in other parts of the nation, our city still propagates an insidious neoliberal racism that keeps our police overfunded, our schools segregated, and our farmers’ market full of dangerous racists. Combined with more explicit calls to violence coming from national leaders, including the President, we are seeing an escalation in violence even here. The City of Bloomington and Monroe County at large are showing, if nothing else, a high level of tolerance for white supremacy that continues to foster violence against Black bodies. Many progressives in our community pride themselves on tolerance.

But, when it comes to white supremacy, we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves: how much hate should we tolerate?

In the last week, there have been three racist incidences that have taken place in or around Bloomington. These incidents show an escalation of violence, and law enforcement’s complicity in that system of violence.

  • July 3, 2020: Darwin “Dee” Davis, Jr., a lifelong Bloomingtonian and Bloomington South basketball star, is profiled while walking in his own neighborhood. He was stopped by an off-duty Lawrence County police officer, and forced to produce ID for “walking while Black.” Davis recorded and then recounted the experience on his Twitter Feed. (
  • July 4, 2020: Vauhxx Rush Booker of the Bloomington Human Rights Commission is assaulted in an obvious hate crime at Lake Monroe. Mr. Booker was physically assaulted by no fewer than five white men who expressed an intention to lynch him. They jumped him from behind, pinned him to a tree, beat him, and repeatedly called for someone to get a noose, all while yelling racial slurs. Video footage shows Mr. Booker’s white friends pleading with the men to let Booker go. Friends of the would-be lynch mob also stepped in, begging them to stop what they were doing. White allies recording the incident were themselves assaulted for daring to record the event. 911 dispatchers sent DNR officers to Lake Monroe. DNR declined to arrest Booker’s assailants, claiming the Prosecutor’s office had told them “there was no immediate need to arrest anyone, and that the officers would simply file a report.” (

Bloomington: what level of white supremacy are YOU willing to tolerate? In just the last week, Black Bloomingtonians have been threatened and harassed on three separate occasions. Each time, this mistreatment of Black people was either co-signed or perpetrated by local law enforcement. This sends a clear message that in the City of Bloomington, and in Monroe County, anti-Black violence up to–and possibly including–public lynchings is acceptable.

In two of these situations, there were people who were willing to intervene where law enforcement did not. There were people who were NOT willing to tolerate this level of violence. This is a principle of community defense in action.

These recent examples make it absolutely clear that Bloomington and Monroe County do not need more police. Police do not make BIPOC and other marginalized people safer. What Bloomington and Monroe County need are more community members who will not allow this sort of violence to happen, and who will hold the authorities accountable for their support and tolerance of white supremacy.

In line with our overall commitment to de-policing our communities, and in light of the past week’s events, BLM-Btown demands that:

  1. The attack on Mr. Booker must be immediately investigated as a hate crime,
  2. The officers involved in all three of these incidents must be investigated and disciplined before their prejudice and negligence threatens the lives and safety of more Black people.
  3. Monroe County must commit to investigating its relationship with the DNR, as they have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to support anti-Black violence on Lake Monroe.
  4. The City and County must commit to a freeze on all law enforcement hires, effective immediately.
  5. Both the City and the County must commit to specific training in dismantling white supremacy in their policy and funding decisions to disrupt their long history of damage to BIPOC communities.

This is just the beginning of the kinds of actions the city and county we call home must take to demonstrate that they value the health, the safety, and the lives of their Black residents. If Bloomington wants to claim the label of “Safe and Civil,” our City needs to make this a reality for Black Bloomingtonians as well.

Core Council, BLM-Btown

DFMC Statement Continued

As a local grassroots political action committee, DFMC promotes equal opportunity and justice for all, especially by working with progressive groups towards a more just future. Thus, we find it important to amplify and to listen to the voices of BLM-Btown.

Here, we want to urge everyone to follow BLM-Btown’s advice “to look in the mirror and ask ourselves: how much hate should we tolerate?” It is especially important that we who identify as liberal and/or progressive do so! Why? Because it is up to us to transform local politics to foster racial justice. It is easy enough to blame Trump, right wing Republicans, and avowed white supremacists for the systemic racial injustice in Bloomington. No doubt, these factors contribute to race-related problems that permeate our culture, policies, and institutions. However, the truth is that Bloomington is exceptional in that liberals and progressives in Bloomington already have the power to change things. Yet our failure to achieve that change is sadly mundane and morally and politically indefensible. We must do better than perpetuating the racially unjust status quo.

Unfortunately, we face a roadblock. To make progress, we must stop using a warped sense of tolerance to excuse the white supremacy that underlies our community’s social, political, and criminal justice systems. We seem to fail to recognize that justice limits tolerance — not anything goes. Too often, Bloomington’s overzealous exercise of tolerance leads us to speed past those limits at the cost of freedom and equality. Yes, we are looking at you:

  • Mayor John Hamilton
  • Bloomington Common Council, Monroe County Commissioners, and Monroe County Council
  • Board of Parks Commissioners, Farmers’ Market Coordinator Marcia Veldman, and Administrator Paula McDevitt, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation 
  • Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant
  • Chief Mike Diekhoff and the Bloomington Police Department
  • Sheriff Brad Swain and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department
  • Division of Law Enforcement of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources

We are also looking at us — liberal and progressive individuals and groups that decide who has political power.

Tolerance should be a tool for justice, not a hindrance. Tolerance does not dictate that we prevent all political consequences that trace to hate-filled ideologies or oppressive practices. Such an understanding of tolerance would render it incompatible with justice. Rather, it requires justice-based reasons for policies that don’t yield entirely neutral results. Among these reasons are those that appeal to freedom, equality, and respect for all. When push comes to shove, it is these grounding values that reveal the limits of tolerance. We cannot effectively pursue racial justice until we comprehend these limits.

It’s time to get our notion of tolerance in check so we may build the necessary vision and political will to dismantle white supremacy, end anti-Black violence, and create the Bloomington we like to believe already exists.



June Link-Up: Labor in Politics, Past and Future

At our June Link-Up, sponsored by the local Jobs with Justice chapter and DFMC, join us to meet Hoosier hero Chuck Jones and Chuck Deppert. Many will remember that last year, United Technologies made $5 billion in profits, while also announcing hundreds of layoffs at its Carrier plants in Indiana. As president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, Chuck Jones fought for the jobs of his fellow union members. When Trump and Pence gave millions of dollars in subsidies to Carrier, Chuck Jones pointed out that Trump’s promises to save workers’ jobs did not add up. Trumps promise to save 1100 or more of those jobs turned out to be only 800, of the 1400 jobs slated to be moved. He suspected the then-president-elect was including in his count design and engineering jobs that were never going to leave. Trump responded on Twitter by saying Jones had done a “terrible job” as union president. Sadly, Chuck Jones is being proven right, with over 600 layoffs at Carrier in Indiana coming this year, including many right before Christmas. His local 1999 United Steelworkers Local also made waves by endorsing the presidential candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders, breaking with much of the labor movement.

Chuck Jones will be joined by Chuck Deppert, former president of the Indiana AFL-CIO, who led the state’s fight against NAFTA in the early 1990s, securing the votes of 8 out of 10 Indiana members of Congress against the disastrous, job-killing agreement.

The two Chucks will provide us with some important insights on taking the Democratic party back to its roots in labor, important given how poorly Democrats fared among the working class both in Indiana and nationwide in last year’s election. Please join us and enjoy a night with Bloomington’s most exciting progressives and lets learn something together.

Let us know you’re coming! Facebook Event Link: Labor In Politics, Past and Present

LOCATION: ***** Runnin Crab, 2038 N. Walnut ******
DATE: 8 June 2017
TIME: 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Runnin Crab is a new restaurant in town serving Cajun Fusion.  While it is mainly seafood, they have vegetable soup and a very good salad bar for vegetarians.  And they serve beer and wine, yahoo yahoo.  Runnin Crab is on the east side of Walnut just south of 24th Street (the bypass).  It is the next restaurant north of La Charreada restaurant.


May Link-Up: Saving Our Public Schools

Cathy Fuentes Rohwer, Chair
Indiana Coalition for Public 
Education, Monroe County

Cathy will talk about the important place of Public Schools in the history of our society and providing the sense of community.  She will also talk about the impact of vouchers and charter schools on our public schools as well as the demonstrable impact on our society.   Finally, she will also discuss the rationale and nature of the Federal lawsuit ICPE-MC filed against Indiana and Seven Oaks Classical School.  Go to to see the press release and the lawsuit as well as a Q&A sheet.

LOCATION: ***** Runnin Crab, 2038 N. Walnut  ******
DATE:         11 May 2017
TIME:          6:00 to 8:00 PM

Runnin Crab is a new restaurant in town serving Cajun Fusion.  While it is mainly seafood, they have vegetable soup and a very good salad bar for vegetarians.  And they serve beer and wine, yahoo yahoo.  Runnin Crab is on the east side of Walnut just south of 24th Street (the bypass).  It is the next restaurant north of La Charreada restaurant.


Gerrymandering, The Movie

Julia Vaughn, Common Cause, talked to us two months ago about both the importance and the difficulty of getting the legislature to pass a law establishing an independent redistricting panel. Join us in watching this 75 minute documentary that hammers home just why politicians – those in the majority — want to control the drawing of legislative districts. It is a 4 star movie described as:

“Right now, across the country, our two major political parties are gearing up for a once-a-decade war whose winner will control Congress for the next ten years, and possibly more. There will be battles in every state, and each will be kept carefully hidden from the prying eyes of average voters who only become more disenchanted with their government with each meaningless election. Democrats and Republicans collude to keep these skirmishes private so that they can maintain total control over the ultimate political weapon: the ability to directly determine the outcome of elections. Why bother stuffing ballots when they can just draw districts? For the first time, GERRYMANDERING exposes the most effective form of manipulating elections short of outright fraud.

We will have cookies and water to sustain you for the hour — as well as good fellowship and discussion.
See you there

Gerrymandering, the movie
DATE:         4 May 2017
TIME:          7:00 PM
Location:    Library (Kirkwood), Room 1B
Sponsors:  Democracy for Monroe County, Reverse Citizens United, and League of Women Voters Bloomington and Monroe County


April Link-Up: Food, Glorious Food – Food Systems in the Comprehensive Plan

The Bloomington Food Policy Council, established in 2011, exists to increase and preserve access to sustainably produced, locally grown, healthful food for all residents in Monroe and surrounding counties. We are a group of community members committed to building food security by assessing the current food system and advocating policy changes that assure everyone access to affordable and nutritious food, with an emphasis on food produced sustainably by local farmers and gardeners.

BFPC Chair, Ryan Conway, will join the DFMC on Thursday April 13th to discuss the importance of including Food Systems in the City and County’s comprehensive and everyday planning activities. The inclusion of Food Systems in the forthcoming City of Bloomington Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) was mandated by the Imagine Bloomington Steering Committee, tasked by the City of Bloomington to develop core standards for priority needs for the City’s next master plan. However, the original draft of the CMP contained only a few, superficial references to this critical element Bloomington’s social, economic, and environmental systems. Attendees will be invited to contribute general and specific feedback on goals, policies, and programs that the BFPC should include in its recommendations to the City and County regarding a Food Systems chapter in the CMP. The BFPC is recruiting additional board members, to more thoroughly address this crucial policy work, and will entertain self-nominations on a rolling basis, submitted to Come learn about and discuss the fight for food security, food justice, and food sovereignty in Bloomington and Monroe County!

When:  Thursday, April 13
Gather at 6, start at 6:30
Where: Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse


DFMC’s own Tom Duffy Speaks to Trey Hollingsworth

Notes from the Trenches
Tom Duffy, Chair DFMC

Cindy and I went to protest Trey last night and it was a very interesting experience. We started holding the signs a little after 5:00. By 5:45 we had about 75 people all with signs and a megaphone or two to lead chants. And we had a photographer and reporter from the H-T as well as WTIU. People attending the fund raiser started arriving around 5:30. Most acted as if we did not exist – but there were some good natured waves. I kept asking people if they would come and talk with us since Trey won’t meet. No takers.

About 6:00 Cindy and I went into the fundraiser with Mike Molenda and Janet Stavropoulos. We owe a HUGE thank you to Katherine Devich for offering tickets to attend. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Overall there were about a dozen dems at the affair – most of whom had been outside protesting. Before going on to the details of the affair, I would like to thank William Ellis, the chair of the Monroe County Republican Party and the MC for the event. He was gracious and friendly in welcoming us and, as Trey was distracted as he visited tables, William made sure Trey made his way back to our table.

I did have a brief conversation with Trey, but before that let me provide a few notes on what was said at the affair:

• Luke Messer is running for Joe Donnelly’s seat in the

• Donald Trump Jr is going to be at their State meeting
(apparently this is hot off the press)

• Trey told us that he really wants to hear from the people. He
hesitated on voting for Trump care because he wanted to
read it, think about it, and ask citizens what they thought.

• Trey also told us that he really wants to know what his
constituents think so every week they make 300 to 500
random phone calls to constituents to learn what is on their
(our) minds. That is a large number of calls – so those of you
were there let me know if I got it wrong – but that is what
at least two of us heard. If they are randomly selected
constituents, I would expect some of us got one of those

In talking to someone in the drink line we were asking how Trey won the primary. I was told that he did little meeting with people but rather flooded the district with mail, phone calls, and push-pull polls. But he spent very little time with people. Remember this is just the opinion of one person I was talking to.

Trey visited all the tables before he talked. When he came to our table I told him I was chair of DFMC and told him about William Ellis (chair, MCRP) and Robert Hall (Grass Roots Conservatives) coming to one of our meetings and receiving a spontaneous round of applause. And that most importantly we found common ground on redistricting and money in politics. I told Trey I would like him to be part of a DFMC meeting and have a conversation with us. He said yes, he said “yes” several times – emphasizing that we are all “Americans first.” He had his PR person give me his phone number to find a date. Cindy recorded the conversation just so there is no missing the commitment he made. You can listen to it here.

So, while I suspect this is going to take some persistence, I am hopeful we will be able to host a very interesting meeting.


Redistricting Ourselves Out of a Corner: How to End Gerrymandering

Democracy for Monroe County Link-up
March 9, 2017

Julia Vaughn, the Policy Director for Common Cause Indiana, will be coming to Bloomington to help us understand what happened with HB1014 – the bill to establish an independent redistricting panel. Julia joined Common Cause in 1995 and is responsible for policy development, lobbying, grassroots organizing and coalition building in the Hoosier State. Julia led the lobbying effort on the Bill, so she can give us the inside scoop on what the heck is going on.

We had over 150 people attending the last HB1014 committee hearing. The committee had to move the meeting to the House Chamber (it was really nice having one of those chamber seats) to accommodate the crowd. In addition to filling the 100 seats in the Chamber, we had scores of folks in the back, along the side, and sitting in the aisle. However, the Republicans (Committee Chairman, Milo Smith from Columbus) still refused to bring the bill to a vote. We need some insight on this willingness to ignore the people.

The focus of this link-up will be on what we can begin doing now to increase the pressure on the House and Senate in the next session. Both Kate Cruickshank and Julia have told me there is much we can and should be doing, so come hear the post-mortem analysis and, most importantly, strategies for moving forward.

Location:        Bobby’s Colorado Steak House, Hoosier Room.
1635 N. College Ave
Date:                March 9th
Time:               6:00 PM Gather for conversation, drinks and eating.
6:30 PM Link-up starts
8:00 PM Formal program ends

Everyone is invited. Please bring friends and introduce them to DFMC. While membership is not required, joining for $20 a year helps us put on our link-ups and support the progressive agenda.

March DFMC Board Meeting. Monday, March 13 at 6:30PM. We hold our DFMC board meetings in the back room at Player’s Pub. This meeting is open to all. Please submit agenda items to if you have a topic you would like us to address.

Coming soon: Special event March 24 featuring best-selling author Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? and other books plus a member survey! Details to come.


How to Win Elections: Reflections from the Candidates – DFMC February Link-up

How Do We Win Voters:
Reflections from the Candidates

Link-ups will normally be the second Thursday of the month – mark it on your calendar.  This month we have moved the date so we can all attend Mayor Hamilton’s State of the City address.

We are so excited that this month’s panel has been able to adjust to the date change.  Our progressive candidates who were in competitive races were invited to talk with us about their experiences in trying to recruit/enlist the rural and moderate Republican citizens in their districts.  The goal is to understand what they learned and how we can use that to reach out and build alliances beyond Bloomington as well as to aid future campaigns.   Our panel discussing these issues includes:
Shelli Yoder, Candidate for U.S. House, 9th District
Penny Githens, Candidate for Indiana House, 60th  District
Bill Breeden, Candidate for Indiana House, 46th District
Linda Henderson, Candidate for Indiana Senate, 44th District

As usual, we gather at 6:00PM with the event starting at 6:30PM.  Remember we are meeting at the Monroe County Public Library, Rm 1B and we will have pizza and bottles of water.

Everyone is invited.  Please bring friends and introduce them to DFMC.  While membership is not required, joining for $20 a year helps us put on our link-ups and support the progressive agenda.

Calls to Action.
We hope you will take an active role in DFMC not only in responding to the link-ups but also:

  •  Attend board meetings and offer your input on topics for future linkups and on how we can make DFMC more effective.
  • Join DFMC committees to build our agenda.  The committees are
    • Outreach (membership, education, collaborations)
    • Events (Link-ups; fund raisers).
    • Candidate Endorsement and support
    • Technology

If you are interested in being on a committee write

February DFMC Board Meeting.  Monday, February 13 at 6:30PM, we holding our next DFMC board meeting in the back room at Player’s Pub. This meeting is open to all. Please submit agenda items to if you have a topic you would like us to address.  The draft agenda can be found here: Board Agenda 13 Feb.docx



DFMC Elections and Membership Renewal

The election for the DFMC board and officers has been set for January 19, 6:30, at the Monroe County Library in Room 1b. Each eligible member in good standing and in attendance will receive a ballot with which to vote.

What constitutes a member in good standing? If you are currently a member for 2016, paying your dues by December 31st would keep you in good standing. If you are newly joining our group, you must complete enrollment and pay your 2017 dues by December 20th. This will satisfy the by-laws rule of having been in good standing for 30 days by the time of the election. Membership in the DFMC is year to year beginning January 1st and lasting until December 31st. Those paying prior to December 31, 2016 will be granted membership through December 31, 2017.

Instructions for paying dues:

Pay Dues

Complete by-laws can be found here:


Intentions to run for the board (including officer positions) must be submitted by midnight, December 31. Officer positions include: Treasurer, Recording Secretary, Chair and Vice Chair. The board consists of these four officers plus up to 8 additional board members for a total board of up to 12 members.

Anyone running for a board or officer position must also be a member in good standing at the time of election. Officers must have been members in good standing for one year (two for chair) at the time of election and otherwise meet all requirements as outlined in the by-laws.

As part of their candidate declaration, each candidate is requested to submit a written statement outlining: the direction you would like to see the organization take, your background, and your political experience. A comprehensive list of candidates along with their statements will be published January 1 or 2 on this Facebook page as well as the DFMC website.

If you have any questions or would like to declare your candidacy please contact current Chair Robert Deppert at or

Thank You for your participation!


November LinkUp — The Affordable Care Act: A Progress Report


Wednesday, November 16 at 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Sweet Grass
405 W Patterson Dr, Bloomington, Indiana 47403

Its seems when you read about the Affordable Care Act, it is either lauded as the best thing to happen to healthcare since Medicare or an absolute disaster.

The first panelist is Dr. Rob Stone who leads a group of activists in Indiana called Hoosiers for a Common Sense Health Plan. He is also an emergency room doctor. So he has some first hand knowledge of how healthcare reform has changed healthcare on the ground.

The second person is me. Rob Deppert. I have been certified as a health insurance broker since the first day that the Affordable Care Act has been availble. I realize that there are some pitfalls to putting yourself on a panel when you run an organization but, I have maintained a client base on these plans from the start, and would like to offer my perspective as someone who has been in the field, signing people up for coverage from day one of this program.

This meeting will take place we in the sperate bar area of Sweet Grass which will be reserved for us. Due to the venue, you must be 21 or older rule to attend this event. It will also be half price wine night!!! So come out and enjoy a night with your favorite progressives at the DFMC, have a glass of wine or beer, and some great food. See you there.