Thomas has been enlivening the Carr Mill lawn for the last few years with his spontaneous, gracefully spiritual dancing. Other times, Bruce can be seen sitting in quiet meditation on one of the nearby benches. And, yes, he is a regular customer of Weaver Street Market.
The ban apparently results from a Carr Mill policy that states that only mall tenants and those attending their events can use the lawn space (thus, Bruce may dance during a WSM event but not otherwise).
To me, Bruce Thomas is much like the mime Robert Shields who became nationally renowned and synonymous with San Francisco's Union Square in the early 1970s (see the opening sequence of Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation for a taste of Shields). With Bruce there is the added dimension of his life story, the difficulties he has overcome, and the role model he offers to others (for background ).
Artistic expression contributes to the culture of downtown and also to the vibrancy of the downtown economy. Individuals like Thomas and hoop artist and instructor Vivian Spiral (also threatened by the ban) become the visible representation of a freedom of spirit and creativity that is identified with Carrboro.
Many people have wanted to take action in support of Bruce. However, a process is underway to review the Carr Mill policy with hopes of rectifying the situation. Weaver Street Market general manager Ruffin Slater will be meeting with mall manager Nathan Milian for a thorough review of the mall's policy. This discussion will begin after Milian returns from a vacation on August 7.
I am optimistic and hopeful that a win-win solution can be found that serves the commercial interests of the mall while opening the way to the continued use of the lawn area by people like Thomas and Spiral as well as the many children (and parents) who enjoy the space.