American Identity Movement in Bloomington: Responses & Reactions

Photograph from Indiana Public Media News

Recently, our community learned that the proprietors of Schooner Creek Farms—Sarah Dye and Douglas Mackey—were named as members of a Neo-Nazi organization in an FBI interview with a man who attacked a synagogue in Carmel. He identified them as members of a group called Identity Evropa, and he provided Dye’s Online handle, “Volkmom.” In May, activists connected the handle “Volkmom” to Sarah Dye through pictures of her farm and personal details she posted on a white supremacist channel in a server on the website Discord. No Space for Hate released an earlier report describing IE (newly rebranded as the American Identity Movement or “AmIM”) and what we know about Dye and Mackey’s connection to the man who attacked the synagogue. That report can be accessed here.

This report will cover some of the aftermath of Dye and Mackey’s exposure. It discusses responses from Schooner Creek Farms, the broader community, Market officials, and the City’s decision to close the market. We have assembled this information through a combination of interviews, online research, and Freedom of Information Act requests. Our image gallery at the bottom of the page contains a selection of tweets and other posts mentioned in the report.

Online white nationalist network responds

Dye and Mackey’s responses to the allegations have varied. When asked by Nashville Farmer’s Market board members whether they were associated with a white supremacist group, they denied the accusation. They were subsequently removed from the Market when proof of Dye’s identity was produced. On July 31, 2019, Fox59 News published an interview with Dye in which she denied being a white supremacist but affirmed that she was an “identitarian”. (https://fox59.com/2019/07/31/controversial-bloomington-farmers-market-vendor-denies-white-supremacy-accusations/) Identitarianism is a new white supremacist movement originating in Europe focused especially on xenophobia and anti-immigration ideology. AmIM has embraced it as part of their strategy of rebranding Neo-Nazi ideas.

We have seen numerous signs of an organized effort by white supremacists across the country to infiltrate our Farmer’s Market and intimidate protesters as well as Mayor John Hamilton:

The response from the white supremacist community leaves very little doubt of Dye and Mackey’s affiliations. Because AmIM uses a rhetoric of non-violence and “protest,” the public should know that

  • AmIM was founded as a Neo-Nazi organization, and it uses dissimulation (semantic tactics, omission, and equivocation) to spread Neo-Nazi ideology while attempting to appear non-violent. Dissimulation plays a very important role in making fascism mainstream and preparing the way to infiltrate and overthrow the political system. The first report includes examples of Patrick Casey (AmIM leader) calling on his followers to run for office and infiltrate government. Lying is a tactic AmIM deploys to recruit followers who might be hesitant to join a fascist community. 
  • Our protesters have received death threats and threats of physical violence from white supremacists. In at least one case, this included a “drive by” visitation to one of our member’s homes. 
  • Protesters’ private information has been shared on white supremacist websites and servers. 
  • Protesters have had their photos taken by supporters of Dye and Mackey at the market.
  • Dye and Mackey’s supporters have circled the market every week since the protests began. They escalated this effort on July 27 when they were joined by members of the Three Percenter movement, including one new recruit who was openly carrying a knife in his belt. This movement is primarily focused on gun rights, and the State of Indiana has very liberal concealed carry laws. 
  • One of the vendors who has helped  the protesters has received unwanted, threatening drive-by visitations to their home by an unidentified individual. 
  • Dye tried to secure, and was denied, a frivolous restraining order against a fellow farmer who wrote a letter informing the community about her white supremacist activity. 
  • In her restraining order hearing, Dye lied under oath about her affiliations with white supremacy. 
  • Dye and Mackey were associated with Nolan and Kiyomi Brewer, a husband and wife who attacked a synagogue in Carmel. While the man who was arrested told FBI agents that Mackey and Dye were unaware of the attack, he also provides such inconsistent statements about the individuals he spoke with about the crime that it would be imprudent to take Brewer at his word on this matter (see the first report). 
  • We believe that, regardless of what Dye and Mackey knew about Brewer’s activities, they recruited him into the organization (first report). 
  • Volkmom was not only a dues-paying member of AmIM, she also reached out to the organization’s leader, attended rallies, maintained a relationship with the individual who took responsibility for flyering our Bloomington campus, and produced YouTube videos to recruit people to her ideology. Dye has also been accused of trying to directly recruit community members. She has connections to a prominent organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville as well. 

Market Closure

In response to the heightened threat from white supremacists like Brien James and gun rights advocates like Gary Weddell of the Three Percenters, the City of Bloomington chose to shut down the market. While we are glad the City is taking action, we are deeply concerned about the effect this closure will have on vendors. NSFH wishes that the City had acted sooner to investigate SCF, especially the claims of harassment against them. While we appreciate the Mayor using the press conference to denounce white supremacy, we wish he would have done so immediately after learning about Dye and Mackey’s activities. Perhaps a closure could have been avoided.

NSFH is proud to be able to provide information about options the public has for supporting vendors. Our members, which include vendors and local small business owners, have worked tirelessly since the Mayor’s announcement to find and create options for affected businesses. Vendors wishing to learn more about any of these opportunities can email nospace4hate@protonmail.com

Dr. Cara Caddoo's arrest

Dr. Cara Caddoo was arrested on the morning of July 27 for trespassing on Market property. She stood across from SCF’s booth holding a protest sign. Market officials claim to have rules against protest signs in the market and request that protesters hold signs or pass out flyers in information alley or on the perimeter of the market. Paula McDevitt, Director of Parks and Recreation, called the police to confront Dr. Caddoo. When she declined to lower her sign or move, she was taken into custody. She did not resist arrest.

Schooner Creek Farms supporter flashing a white power sign (July 27)

For several months, member of NSFH have submitted written and verbal requests for the Market’s policies banning protest signs in the market. These rules were never produced. On the Wednesday following Dr. Caddoo’s arrest, members of NSFH met with Market director Marcia Veldman and discovered that these rules had never been written down. The first appearance of these rules in writing was on July 27. NSFH strongly condemns the arrest of Dr. Caddoo for violating unwritten rules.

Furthermore, NSFH members witnessed harassment of Dr. Caddoo and bystanders by the individuals surrounding Dye and Mackey. These included intentionally blocking Dr. Caddoo and others, dangling a plastic bag with food they had purchased in front of Dr. Caddoo’s face, and flashing a white power sign. The police asked some of these individuals to move, which they did, but several of them returned to their places shortly after. Parks and Recreation did not request that these individuals be arrested. 

Farmers' Market Response

In their interactions with Dye and Mackey, Market officials took the following actions:

  • Recorded harassment reports in 2017 from Dye on October 28 and November 4 and 11. 
  • Requested increased police presence in the market after a May 12, 2018 incident that resulted in a physical altercation.
  • Wrote about the incident in the “Market Beet,” noting, “As a contracted farm vendor of the Market, you have agreed to collaborate with each other and the City to help create an environment where all can feel welcome. However, if you feel threatened by individual’s behavior or words, you should call the police.”  
  • In response to the May 2018 incident, market officials added a clause to the vendor contract about creating a “safe and welcoming” environment. Veldman later admitted in a July FMAC meeting that this clause is unenforceable because of the first amendment. 
  • There is no evidence that the Market asked Dye or Mackey about their involvement in white supremacy, even though they were identified in an FBI interview. We believe Market officials ought to have inquired about whether Dye and Mackey had been approached by or cooperated with the FBI. 
  • Knowing that there were allegations of white supremacy in the market, the City should have sent in testers to determine whether customers were being discriminated against. It does not violate anyone’s first amendment rights to investigate possible discrimination against customers, and it would have been a prudent step to protect customer’s rights. 

In short, the Market took several steps to ensure that Dye and Mackey felt protected, and they declined to investigate the allegations of white supremacy against Dye and Mackey. Here is how the Market has interacted with protesters:

  • The Farmers’ Market provided NSFH with an area to set up a tent as well as information about where we could flyer. They waived our booth fee as well. 
  • Market officials and the Mayor have both had several meetings with protest organizers and vendors who feel unsafe at the market. 
  • Veldman received complaints of harassment within the market and referred those complaints to police without following up on them.
  • Veldman approached people flyering in the market and discouraged them from standing within the market territory. 
  • On July 19, “Black bloc” protesters were asked to leave because they were wearing black masks and standing in front of the Schooner Creek Farms’ stand. Despite their appearance, they were non-violent. These activists did not work in coordination with NSFH, and they left without incident.
  • On July 27, officers from Bloomington Police Department arrested Dr. Cara Caddoo for peacefully holding a sign in front of Dye and Mackey’s stand at the request of Paula McDevitt, Parks and Recreation Director. 
  • A white, male member of NSFH came forward in a public social media post claiming they had engaged in a similar protest inside the Market in the recent past that did not result in an arrest. When asked in this context why Dr. Caddoo was arrested, McDevitt declined to respond. 

We believe that Market officials now need to take steps to educate themselves about white supremacy, and should avail themselves of the research materials shared with them by NSFH. Our group includes historians, cultural scholars, social workers, educators, and other members of the community who are highly knowledgeable on the topic of white supremacy. We are united in the belief that the City needs to act swiftly in order to prevent the type of assembly that happened on July 27, and which may still happen. The city needs to investigate harassment, follow up on reports, and read their own reports about conflicts within the market space.  NSFH will do our due diligence in continuing to educate the City and the public about these issues.

Some individuals believe that the protesters are to blame for “inciting” the white supremacists. In reality, these groups are following a well-established pattern of growth and escalation that protesters are attempting to head off. We believe that should action not be taken by the City going forward, it will result in a situation in which more white supremacists’ groups will converge on our Farmers’ Market. We believe Market officials will be held responsible for their inaction should incidents arise after the market reopens. Informing the public is the first step. We also wish the City would voluntarily investigate whether protesters’ rights to due process or free speech were violated by Market officials. 

Free Speech

Others have argued that protesters are harassing the farmers and that we should leave them to their own beliefs. They feel that our protests violate Dye and Mackey’s rights to free speech. However, we believe that this view results from a confusion between the right of privacy and the right of free speech, and public misconceptions about the extent to which the Constitution protects privacy. 

The constitution explicitly protects the right to protest and also does not protect the privacy of the farmers in this case. The first amendment secures people’s right to hate speech. It also protects people’s right to almost all forms of public discourse. Our Supreme Court has always upheld a very generous interpretation of free speech, and in order to take away someone’s right to free speech, one has to produce extensive evidence of libel. That is why Dye was unable to secure her restraining order: the evidence confirming Volkmom’s identity is clear and overwhelming. People have a right to speak about others when they are reasonably able to defend the things they say. 

By contrast, the constitution gives very little right to privacy, and most of what it does provide does not apply to online activity. People simply do not have a right to prevent people from knowing about beliefs they have, actions they’ve taken, or what they have posted online. The constitution protects people’s rights to discuss these things. Because we are dealing with a violent movement, we would ask people to challenge the discomfort they feel at the notion that people’s privacy has been violated. While we appreciate the need to protect privacy, in this case, we believe the concern is misplaced. 

Image Gallery

No Space for Hate has received overwhelming support from the community and concerns about the presence of white supremacists in the Farmers’ Market. Many people support our efforts and feel represented by our movement. We’d like to take a minute to highlight our friends: 

Likes (as of August 1, 2019) & Reviews of No Space for Hate

Donations raised 25 hours after announcement of our fundraiser

Members of the community have also written their own responses to these events: