Alderman Black Frustrated With BLM Refusal To Engage | WGLT

Alderman Black Frustrated With BLM Refusal To Engage

Jan 20, 2017

Closeup of the potential Jefferson Street Community House, formerly a proposed police substation.
Credit Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

Bloomington Alderman Scott Black says he is ready to vote on the West Jefferson Street Community House next week.

The property was originally proposed as a police substation. The WGLT interview with Black is part of series of interviews on the west side house and its proposed use. 

Black said he hasn't had any formal conversations with members of Black Lives Matter. Black said the activist group blocked local leaders from participating in a meeting and has been difficult to engage in meaningful dialog.

"They said specifically that public officials, elected officials, and police were not invited into this meeting. And you had to message somebody who has a profile that doesn't exist to get the location of the meeting. It's almost as hard to get into the Batcave as it is one of these meetings," said Black.

Black said he wants to hear their concerns, but feels one advocacy group can't speak for the entire neighborhood.  Black said he hopes the West Jefferson Street Community House can be an innovative solution to build trust back over time. 

"I hope Black Lives Matter is there with us, is there at the community house and is there as part of building that partnership because it's going to take a lot of time. It's going to take a lot of effort. I am hoping they are willing to do the hard work as well," said Black.

Black, whose ward includes the house, said he understands minorities feel as though they have been excluded and targeted.

"So, how do we bring them into the process? How do we show them that we want to work with them? We want their assistance and we want to get rid of that perception. It's going to take a lot of work. But, I'm willing to dig in there and make that happen," said Black.

File photo of Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black
Credit Staff / WGLT

Black also said the rebranding of what had been called a police substation is important. Calling the Jefferson Street building a Community House could help residents feel more welcome than they would at a substation.

The city council will vote on the property Monday night.

Black told GLT's Charlie Schlenker the project is essentially where they were a month ago after no meaningful sharing from Black Lives Matter. Black said he thinks the community house is a project that has unfortunately become quite political. He said he thinks it's unfortunate that a group has tried to re-frame the issue by taking national issues into the community.