Sarah Dye organizes produce in August at the Schooner Creek Farm booth at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market in Showers Common. (Rich Janzaruk / Herald-Times)
Sarah Dye organizes produce in August at the Schooner Creek Farm booth at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market in Showers Common. (Rich Janzaruk / Herald-Times)
City officials have solicited an outside mediator to envision a path out of the recent civil unrest stemming from the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market.

The Bridge Initiative, a part of the Divided Community Project at The Ohio State University law school, launched in January to provide communities with mediators who have experience resolving civil unrest. Bill Johnson — a former three-term mayor of Rochester, New York, and former head of Rochester’s Urban League — has already interviewed local government and university leaders. Now, he’s planning a return trip next week to speak with people who may not hold a position within an organization.

“What I want to do now is talk to more average, unconnected citizens. I’ve used the contacts I’ve made so far to identify other people, to get a sense of the racial undercurrents that exist in the city and help the city come up with strategies to not only address the market situation ... but also this future of inclusiveness, including people who don’t really hold the reins of power,” Johnson said.

Johnson visited Bloomington in August and September to speak with dozens of representatives from organizations such as city government and the university, as well as community activist groups including No Space for Hate and Black Lives Matter.

Hundreds of residents signed a letter in June alleging the owners of Schooner Creek Farm, a vendor at the city’s market, were involved in white supremacist activities. The letter based those allegations on leaked online chat room conversations and FBI records of testimony from a recent hate crimes case.

Schooner Creek Farm’s Sarah Dye acknowledged in August that she’d written the posts, but has since said she rejects white supremacy.

Dye is a self-described Identitarian and has aligned herself with the American Identity Movement’s mission to “staunchly defend the preservation of America’s historical demographics in the face of mass immigration, and are opposed to the demonization of and discrimination against America’s white majority.”

The Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups, said that group “espouses racism and intolerance under the guise of preserving the ethnic and cultural origins of their respective countries.”
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