An electronic construction sign was hacked in Bloomington, Ind., on Wednesday morning in what appears to be a protest against the city’s recent purchase of an armored vehicle. The sign read “ABOLISH ICE” and “BURN [THE] BEARCAT,” which refers to the Lenco BearCat the city purchased in February, according to Indiana Public Media.
According to the Bloomington communications director Yaël Ksander, the hacking of the sign display was an act of vandalism, and that police are investigating the matter. The messages have since been removed.
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Bloomington officials said that the military grade vehicle would be used to protect both officers and civilians against powerful firearms such as the AK-15 and the AK-47. However, many didn’t feel that the bulletproof truck, which cost taxpayers $250,000, was necessary.
Vauhxx Booker, a spokesman for Black Lives Matter Bloomington, said that many in the community are concerned about the vehicle’s use. He said, “I’m not sure this is a vehicle conducive to good community policing.” On Tuesday, the vehicle was on display for citizens at an open house. Booker added, “But now that it’s here, and for the time that it’s here, we’re going to take this as an opportunity to make sure that we systematically look at our police force.”
Police chief Mike Diekhoff has tried to reassure citizens that the BearCat will not be used during protests.
“I know there’s a lot of distrust of police, but I can never see an incident where we have a protest downtown where we’re going to roll this vehicle out to use it,” Diekhoff says. “It doesn’t — it won’t rise to the level of following our policies and following the matrix to deploy our CIRT team.”
Diekhoff added that the manufacturer, Lenco, does not include weapons on the model. If they wish to add attachments, the mayor and city council would need to approve that first.
“So those are types of things that they will have to also watch, but I can tell you that there’s no need to arm that vehicle,” Diekhoff says.
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