By Eric Timmons
Local protesters against police brutality sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer have made a list of demands to La Crosse City Mayor Tim Kabat.
The demands made to city hall and posted to the group’s Facebook page are:
1. How will you use your office to work with the community and create the change and justice you say you support?
2. How will you ensure transparency in the planning process and how will community members be invited to take part?
3. What is your plan to address systemic racism in our community?
4. How will you continue to protect La Crosse resident’s right to protest?
5. How will you increase transparency surrounding the trainings LCPD go through?
Mayor Kabat met with protestors in downtown La Crosse on Sunday evening and spoke to the group for more than half an hour. He pledged to listen to their concerns, and invited demonstrators to the city’s Human Right’s Commission meetings, and also suggested that a broader community meeting around the issues raised by protestors should be organized.
The Demand Justice 4 George Floyd Group & All Victims of Police Brutality group is calling on the mayor to return with a plan to address their demands by July 4.
Another demonstration against police brutality is planned for 7 p.m., Wednesday, at Riverside Park, and the mayor is among those who have pledged to attend.
Mayor Kabat told demonstrators Sunday that the city’s police were receiving training in cultural bias training, and that in general the city was doing “a good job” on race relations.
However, the city of La Crosse has faced two racial discrimination lawsuits by African-Americans who had been La Crosse police officers in recent years. In April, the city settled for $83,000 with Officer Nathan M. Poke. The second former officer, Anthony Clark, settled with the city for $50,000 in 2016.
Clark’s suit claimed black officers were referred to as “jigaboo,” that he was called a “house dog,” and that bananas were put in his locker.
Meanwhile, last year, the La Crosse Police Department, stopped sending its recruits for training at Western Technical College, after a Western instructor was said to have accused the department of racism.
Chief Ron Tischer, who since been replaced by Shawn Kudron, decided to send recruits instead to Chippewa Valley Technical College, almost two hours away. Western spent $100,000 to hire investigators to look into the claim, but the final report found no evidence to substantiate the allegation. It was alleged that Nicole Miller, an instructor at the college’s law enforcement academy had made the claim the department was full of racists in a warning to a potential recruit considering working for the La Crosse police department.
Miller is a former La Crosse County sheriff’s deputy and former correctional officer. Miller was cleared of any wrongdoing by the investigation.
In 2014, a report issued by La Crosse County on juvenile justice arrests and minority contacts found that minority juveniles in La Crosse were roughly nine times more likely to be arrested than white juveniles.
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