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'Hate Has No Home Here' signs removed from La Crosse park

"Hate Has No Home Here" signs approved, then removed from city parks

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - All signs in La Crosse have to be approved by the city before they can show up on public property.

"Hate Has No Home Here" signs were approved earlier this year to be in city parks but that didn't last long.

"That means we welcome everyone in this community," said resident Emily Sustar. 

For Sustar, the sign in her front lawn has a welcoming message. 

"It's just acknowledging that this is an inclusive community." 

She first saw the signs in Weigent Park, after they were approved by the city. 

"What we looked for in the department is that we were in favor of the concept, and thought it was a good message," said Jay Odegaard, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of La Crosse. 

"Everybody who drove by the park recognized the message and it was a profound impact," said co-organizer of the Hate Has No Home Here campaign Josh Hertel. 

Hertel was heavily involved in getting the signs placed in the park. 

"You'll see these signs all over the place." 

Now the city is reversing course. After consulting with lawyers they've decided to no longer allow the signs in the park. 

"We need to make sure that public spaces aren't tied to anything that's affiliated to anything that's a political message," said Odegaard. 

The city got some complaints from people who felt the signs were politically-motivated.

"Our group isn't politically affiliated with anyone. Our campaign is a response to a bunch of incidents that have been happening in the La Crosse area," said Hertel.  

Incidents like the appearance of stickers belonging to a white nationalist group, and racially charged graffiti on a taxi business.

"It's been painted over. But it's important to remember that it's not forgotten. They stand as a very hateful incident that does not go away." 

The signs at Weigent have gone away, but they continue to stand in several front lawns. 

"It's just setting an example for our children just being loving, compassionate people who don't discriminate," added Sustar. 

The Hate Has No Home Here campaign started in Chicago, and signs have been seen in cities nationwide. 

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