Charleston shooting prompts IU to remember its own ‘evil act’

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) – As Charleston continues to heal from Wednesday night’s tragedy, Bloomington is reminded of what it took to come together after a similar situation there.

16 years ago, Indiana University graduate student, Won-Joon Yoon, was gunned down in front of the Korean United Methodist Church.

Police say he was targeted because of his race.

“This horrible thing happened and this amazing overwhelming loving response came from this very evil act,” said JT. Forbes, the current Executive Director and CEO of the IU Alumni Association. At the time of the shooting he lead the university’s marketing department.

Yoon was gunned down on July 4, 1999. He was targeted by white supremacist, Benjamin Smith.

At first the community was shocked, but it quickly turned into action.

“It really helped us realize how important it is to create a climate of, and culture of, care,” said Forbes

The tragedy was one of the first big tests for Bloomington United, a group formed just a year earlier.

“The only way to defeat hate isn’t through more hate, its through caring and love and friendship,” said Rabbi Sue Silberberg, one of the founding members of Bloomington United.

The day Yoon was gunned down there was a parade in town. The parade went on as planned, and the healing began.

“While there was fear on the part of all of us, there was also an immediate sense of pride that we were going to do this,” said Doug Bauder, another founding member of the group.

Some in the Bloomington community says as Charleston, SC begins to heal, they need to take what happened, and learn from it.

“It can happen anywhere in America, said Charlie Nelms, at the time of the shooting he was the Vice President for Institutional Development and Student Affairs at IU. “The question is, do we learn it from it, how do we learn from it, and how do we move forward?”

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