Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said he was pushed to the ground and a man tried to hit him with his fist near Kohl’s about 10:30 p.m. Monday. Renner said he had tried to engage a group of people in dialogue.
Renner said he spent the early part of the evening driving around checking on locations rumored to be targets of vandals and said he found nothing. He ended up at Kohl’s at Eastland Mall. Renner said most people in vehicles he talked with were gawkers, who told him they were just there to see what was happening.
Then he saw about a dozen people walking north from the store.
“And the police officer I was chatting with at that point said, 'I wouldn’t recommend talking with them,'” said Renner.
The mayor said he ignored that advice, and tried to ask them what the problem was or their issues. He said they yelled at him profanely, became agitated, and threatened to stab and kill him.
“One of the guys attacked me and shoved me backwards, I blocked a punch,” said Renner. “I’m fine.”
Renner said the group then fled in a vehicle.
Renner said it was interesting that in several minutes of attempted dialogue he could get no issue, position, or beef out of the group.
“I wanted to know what the heck is going on. Why are you so mad? Can you tell me? Can you verbalize? What can I do?" said Renner. “And there was absolutely not a syllable of anything.”
Renner said the lack of local knowledge or the willingness to talk about the city convinces him they were not from Bloomington-Normal.
Renner said it is unclear how that incident might affect city attempts to deal with the unrest and any potential connection to the national unrest related to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“That does not mean it should be dismissed just because there were probably lots of people recruited by some broader organization to descend on our community. And I would not have used those terms 48 hours ago,” said Renner.
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