IU protests held in solidarity with peers at Purdue, Chicago

Altercation with car being investigated as vandalism, battery incident

The sound of broken glass was the finale to a noise-filled demonstration Tuesday on IU’s campus that ended when a protester’s drum smashed through a Jeep’s window.

The event — a cacophony of pounding drums, chanting protesters and a moaning vuvuzela — was in solidarity with two other protesting groups, demonstrators said.

Many of the students there were marching in support of Purdue University students protesting the appointment of Gov. Mitch Daniels as Purdue’s new president. The faculty and staff present were there in support of teachers striking in Chicago.

Near Ballantine Hall on campus, Indiana University senior Aidan Crane spoke through a megaphone tethered to his wrist, reading a statement about Daniels’ record.

“Daniels has no experience in university administration,” Crane said. “Instead, he has overseen more than $150 million in cuts to higher education. That’s more tuition that you’re paying.”

Benjamin Robinson, an associate professor of Germanic studies at IU and a member of the Progressive Faculty and Staff Caucus, read a statement in support of the thousands of Chicago teachers having their first strike in 25 years.

“And like you, we believe that cities, counties, states and nations that are committed to social justice, equality and the free development of an informed citizenry must fully fund public education,” Robinson said through the megaphone, which was still tethered to Crane. “Your courage and clarity of purpose are a beacon to educators everywhere.”

Carrying signs and instruments, the group of about 40 demonstrators loudly moved from Ballantine Hall toward Indiana Avenue, then looped around back toward Ballantine by way of Seventh Street, blocking traffic, which added honking car horns to the demonstration’s sound mix.

Then, as the demonstrators rounded North Forest Avenue near Woodburn Hall, an altercation between marchers and a black Sahara Wrangler Unlimited occurred. Some yelled that the vehicle had hit the marchers. Suddenly, a drum was smashed into one of the vehicle’s windows.

One passenger suffered an injury to his right arm where he was hit by glass. He received medical attention at the scene. Officers are investigating the incident as a vandalism and a battery, according to IU Police Chief Keith Cash. One occupant was hit by a drumstick, and another had his hat stolen.   Most of the demonstrators were not involved in the altercation.

At the end of the event, Robinson said he participated in the demonstration because, as a teacher and a parent, he supports teachers and their right to collectively bargain.

“I want my kid to learn to negotiate, to bargain, to have dignity in their job,” he said. “That’s career training. So, as a parent, an educator and a public citizen, supporting the Chicago teachers strike is a passionate cause.”

Originally published in the Bloomington Herald-Times.