La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat responds to list of questions about systemic racism, policing from protesters

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)– La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat is responding to a list of questions about what the city is doing to address racism, transparency around training for the police department, the right to protest and other issues. Last week, protesters called for Kabat to answer to the list.

Community members have been protesting in response to the death of George Floyd, who died after police knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, according to an autopsy. Four Minneapolis police officers have been charged in Floyd’s death.

The list asked Kabat how he will use his position to work with the community and create the change and justice he has publicly supported. In response, Kabat said the city will work with residents through traditional means, such as public meetings, surveys and other outreach. However, he added the need to include the voices specifically of people of color through better outreach and engagement.

“A critical next step is to develop forums and opportunities for people – especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color who do not feel safe or welcomed – in sharing their experiences and ways we can improve. We must identify what changes are needed. To address this need for better outreach and engagement, I have contacted a number of groups and individuals here in La Crosse to discuss more effective ways to work with our Black, Indigenous and People of Color,” Kabat said.

He added they are working to schedule a virtual town hall(s) to discuss transparency, systemic racism and policing in La Crosse. The city’s Human Rights Commission La Crosse’s Black Leaders Acquiring Collective Knowledge (BLACK) leadership to plan the event(s). The meeting(s) would include area leaders, members of the police department and other involved in the criminal justice system.

To address systemic racism in the city, Kabat said, in part, they need to build upon the work of the city’s HRC. The group put together a strategic plan for improving the community and addressing racism.

Regarding questions about further protests, Kabat said the city will continue doing everything they can to respect, support and promote the fundamental American right to free speech, assemble and petition the government.

Kabat was asked how he will increase transparency of police training. He referenced a police web page that includes these details, which was unveiled on Thursday after multiple protests in the city. But added he is working on legislation for the La Crosse Common Council to create a citizen advisory board, which would review and assess training programs, offer input, understand the effectiveness and make recommendations for change.

The mayor’s office said if anyone is interested in joining the citizen’s advisory board, to contact his office. You must be a resident of the city, although Kabat can see technical and advisory seats for non-residents.

More information on the events and groups are coming soon.

The full response can be found here.