While mulling about the bundles of kale and baskets of fresh peaches, some farmers' market shoppers are dodging fear and protests from white supremacists who are bringing their racism to another gathering place.
Farmers' markets are another soft target Americans must fear when going out and about. The New York Times investigated a Bloomington, Indiana stand where people can't get their gluten-free bread in peace. Justin Williams revealed a friend has been thinking about bringing his shotgun to the market for protection. One husband and wife team was accused of being white nationalists, after years of selling tomatoes and kale at the market.
"Activists and online sleuths used federal court records and the leaked archives of a far-right message board to uncover a digital trail they say connects the couple who own Schooner Creek Farm to an organization that promotes white nationalism and 'white American identity,'" The Times reported Sunday.
The issue became something more than a rumor and the town's residents packed into a Schooner Creek public meeting. It didn't go well. There were protests and counter-protesters; some even talked about whether they should arm themselves.
After a gunman from a Dallas suburb drove to El Paso to attack Mexicans, some citizens realize there's no way to protect themselves against a mass shooter anymore, white supremacist or otherwise.
"The situation grew so volatile that Bloomington's mayor suspended the market late last month over public safety concerns," The Times reported. "It abruptly short-circuited the heart of Saturday morning life in this heavily white, liberal town of 85,000 that is home to Indiana University. The market has more than 130 vendors and draws as many as 12,000 people downtown at the height of the growing season."
Market coordinator Marcia Veldman confessed that it has been "challenging," and the market may have to close for the first time in its 45-year history.
Antifa showed up dressed in black, standing in front of the Schooner Creek Farm's vegetable stand. The following week, armed right-wing militia group came to support the farm against Antifa. Online white nationalists have rallied behind Schooner Creek.
Regardless of which protesters say what, the Schooners Creek owners said that they're not white supremacists and they keep their politics away from the farmer's market. Because of what they call false accusations, they said they'd become a target.
"I am disgusted at the level of lies, misinformation, falsehoods, and intimidation by those who do not know me or my family," co-owner Sarah Dye said.
She told local Fox 59 in Indianapolis: "we absolutely reject supremacy."
For Justin Williams, all of the joy of the farmer's market has been sucked out of it.
"It wears on you," the gluten-free baker said of the "tension" around town. His wife Brandi is biracial, and the couple is worried about their safety. They saw a car that kept driving back and forth in front of their home. Sometimes Mr. Williams sleeps in their living room so he can be near the front door if something happens.
Read the full heartbreak in the small Indiana town at The New York Times.