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Nancy Parcher seals individual packs of food with equipment funded by the La Crosse Area Emergency Response Fund.


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La Crosse protests for second night, mayor's wife pepper-sprayed
Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Nearly 300 protesters stopped traffic Saturday evening to protest the killing of George Floyd.

Hundreds of protesters gathered and marched through Downtown La Crosse on Saturday evening, a mostly peaceful night, aside from an incident where Mayor Tim Kabat’s wife was pepper-sprayed by an onlooker.

Christy Kabat was part of the march Saturday evening when she got into an altercation with a driver who was stopped in the street by the protest, according to Mayor Kabat.

The driver “came very close” to hitting her and nearby protesters, said the mayor, who wasn’t at the protests himself. When Christy reminded the driver that they were protesting “peacefully,” he then sprayed her with pepper spray or mace.

“She’s pretty shook up,” Mayor Kabat said. “She feels responsible because she’s like, ‘Well, I should have just let the jerk drive away.’”

“I understand people have different opinions,” he said, “I just can’t believe somebody would unload their either mace or pepper spray right there.”

Police are investigating the incident.

This was the city’s second night of protests against the killing of George Floyd, and it brought a crowd of nearly 300 people of different races, ages, genders and backgrounds.

The group met at Powell Park at Jackson Street and West Avenue, where they would eventually march through the city’s downtown, to City Hall and back, occupying the streets and stopping traffic along the way.

La Crosse joined other cities around the country, state and Midwest that also saw protests last week and through the weekend, some of them bringing destruction.

In Wisconsin, Madison protesters on Saturday night were tear gassed as riots grew from its event and a police car was set on fire in its downtown, and in Milwaukee, a police officer was shot during its weekend protests.

“I think the police have done an excellent job of just being there in case people need them, but really just let folks honor George Floyd, and of course demand justice,” Mayor Kabat said of La Crosse’s events. “And they did that very peacefully the last two nights.”

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Protesters making their way to La Crosse's Downtown.

“It was beautiful,” said Stevie Sam of the Friday night march as he set out water for Saturday’s event.

“We definitely blocked off some streets, and probably made a lot of people upset by blocking traffic and stuff like that,” he said. “Like you see it on their faces when you walk through. But it’s OK because we’re out here fighting for a cause.”

Anybody’s backyard

Chants rang throughout the group of protesters, repeating George Floyd’s name and shouting things like “hands up, don’t shoot.”

The killing of Floyd in Minneapolis last week was said to be racially motivated and erupted protests and riots in the city through the weekend, as officials called in armed forces to contain the events.

And though the tragic event happened two and a half hours from La Crosse, members of the community said they feel the pain of it, even here.

“Obviously it shows that it doesn’t have to happen in your own backyard for you to feel some type of emotion. Remorse, anger, sad or whatever you feel for you to act out on it,” Sam said.

“The fact that we’re here in La Crosse, two and a half hours (away), still protesting something that’s not happening in our own neighborhood is beautiful in itself,” he said.

“Seeing a lot of people come together at a time like this, it’s a really big thing,” said Paris Moore. “Especially for our La Crosse community. Especially with all the diversity here.”

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Young protesters march down La Crosse's West Avenue during Saturday's protests.

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

A young protester fills in her chalk drawing of the Black Lives Matter hashtag at Saturday's movement.

Moore has lived in La Crosse for 10 years, but grew up in Arizona where his community regularly formed similar movements like this one. He said he felt a lot of sadness over the events, but felt “upbeat” about the diverse group of people at Saturday’s protest, especially the young participants.

“Because it could have happened anywhere. But even though we weren’t there, it affects us here. So seeing everybody affected by this and wanting to come together,” he said, “it’s pretty big.”

Moore marched with his children and wife, pulling a wagon with their things behind him, and along the route waved to his mom, who watched from her porch as his kids yelled out, “Hi Granny,” while they marched.

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Pearlie Moore, 76, watches from her porch as protesters march past her house. Her son and grandchildren were among those marching.

Pearlie Moore, 76, moved to La Crosse three years ago. She said she grew up in Mississippi, and though she said she’d never marched in any protests, she’d been fighting for civil rights her whole life.

“I’ve been in it,” she said through tears, waving to her son and grandkids,” all 76 years.”

A city of allies

“Not to be disrespectful, but I see a lot of white people. Thank you,” one organizer said to the crowd, calling them his brothers and sisters.

The group took several nine-minute moments of silence — the amount of time Floyd was restrained by police with a knee on his neck — during their protest, once behind La Crosse’s City Hall, knelt down with fists raised in the air.

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Protesters hold a nine-minute moment of silence outside of La Crosse City Hall.

One non-black protester spoke to the crowd saying how long the nine minutes felt.

“I can’t even begin to imagine,” he said, trying to put himself in Floyd’s shoes.

For Val German, the weekend’s protests gave him a sense of belonging.

“I’m not going to lie,” he said, “when I first came out here ... I promise you I felt so uncomfortable being who I was.”

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Traffic stopped in its place while protesters marched through La Crosse's streets.

German was helping his friend Sam set out the water for the other protesters. The pair each moved to the area from other parts of the country when they were teens, but German said this was the first time he felt like it was home.

“Seeing all the different types of people standing up for a specific cause, it kind of brings comfort knowing, maybe this city, they are accepting, of not only who we are, but as well as what happens outside of our own community,” German said.

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Demonstrators of all ages, races, genders and backgrounds met to protest police brutality on Saturday in La Crosse.

“So it’s beautiful to see people of different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, you name it. They’re all here together for one cause,” he said, “It honestly makes you feel like, OK, I can call this place home.”

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Protesters kneel down on 6th Street stopping traffic during a moment of silence.

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

People along the protest route emerged from their porches, windows, balconies and car windows to show their support for the cause.

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Protesters gathered back at Powell Park after marching through Downtown La Crosse. One sign reads 'equality is essential.'

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

Protesters seen marching between La Crosse's downtown buildings.

Olivia Herken, La Crosse Tribune 

One protester's sign reads "Black is not a cause of death" as she marches with the group down West Avenue.


US cities assess protest damage, await another day of unrest

MINNEAPOLIS — America’s cities boarded up windows, swept up glass and covered graffiti Sunday as the country’s most significant night of protests in a half-century promised to spill into another day of unrest fueled by killings of black people at the hands of police.

The turbulence sparked by the death of George Floyd — a black man who died after being pinned under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer — shook not only the streets of New York and Los Angeles, but dozens of smaller communities such as Fargo, North Dakota, and Lincoln, Nebraska. The damage extended even to buildings near the White House.

Peaceful protests involving tens of thousands of people on Saturday gave way, in some places, to rioting, looting and violence, with police vehicles torched, stores emptied and objects hurled at officers. The police response varied from restrained to aggressive, with officers at times firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police and peaceful protesters alike pleaded for a stop to violence, saying it only hindered calls for justice and reform.

“It only hurts the cause,” said Danielle Outlaw, head of the police force in Philadelphia, where more than 200 people were arrested as fires and looting engulfed Center City.

Disgust over generations of racism in a country founded by slaveholders combined with a string of recent high-profile killings to stoke the anger. Three months before Floyd’s death, Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot as he jogged through a Georgia neighborhood. A white father and son are charged in the slaying. The month after Arbery was killed, an EMT named Breonna Taylor was shot eight times by Louisville, Kentucky, narcotics detectives who knocked down her front door. No drugs were found in her home.

Adding to that was angst from months of lockdowns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately hurt communities of color, not only in terms of infections but in job losses and economic stress.

The droves of people congregating in chanting demonstrations threatened to trigger new outbreaks, a fact overshadowed by the boiling tensions.

“We’re sick of it. The cops are out of control,” protester Olga Hall said in Washington, D.C. “They’re wild. There’s just been too many dead boys.”

The scale of the protests, sweeping from coast to coast and unfolding on a single night, rivaled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.

Curfews were imposed in places around the U.S., including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. About 5,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

In Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, police, state troopers and National Guard members moved in soon after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect Saturday to break up demonstrations. The show of force came after three days in which police largely avoided engaging protesters, and after the state poured more than 4,000 National Guard troops into Minneapolis. Authorities said that number would soon rise to nearly 11,000.

President Donald Trump appeared to cheer on the tougher tactics, commending the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis and declaring “No games!” He said police in New York City “must be allowed to do their job!”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden condemned the violence as he continued to express common cause with those demonstrating after Floyd’s death.

“The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest,” Biden said in a late-night statement.

Dozens of additional protests were underway or expected on Sunday, from Miami to Kansas City to San Francisco.

At the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was killed, people gathered with brooms and flowers, saying it was important to protect what they called a “sacred space.” The intersection was blocked with the traffic cones while a ring of flowers was laid out.

County Commissioner Angela Conley showed up shortly after the curfew lifted, saying that police had trampled flowers and photos of Floyd. “The community needs healing, and what happened last night only exacerbated the pain that’s been felt,” she said of police action.

Conley said the demonstrations and confrontations with police would continue until the other three officers who were at the scene when Floyd was pinned down are arrested and prosecuted. The officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, was charged last week with murder. All four officers have been fired.

“We’ll continue to have this militarized presence in our community until justice is done,” Conley said.

In tweets Sunday, Trump blamed anarchists and the media for fueling the violence. Attorney General William Barr pointed a finger at “far left extremist” groups. Police chiefs and politicians around the country accused outsiders of coming in and causing the problems.

Few parts of America were untouched. Protesters set fires inside Reno’s city hall, and police launched tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators in Fargo, North Dakota. In Salt Lake City, demonstrators flipped a police car and lit it on fire. Police said six people were arrested and an officer was injured after being struck in the head with a baseball bat.

By Sunday, the fury had spread to Europe, where thousands gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square, clapping and waving placards despite government rules barring crowds because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia, and at least four police vehicles were set on fire. In New York, a video showed two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators who were pushing a barricade against one of them and pelting it with objects. Several people were knocked to the ground. It was unclear if anyone was hurt.

“The mistakes that are happening are not mistakes. They’re repeated violent terrorist offenses, and people need to stop killing black people,” Brooklyn protester Meryl Makielski said.

In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence, adding to deaths reported in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.


Sawyer Smith's time of 48.54 seconds in the 400-meter dash is the best in Coulee Region history.


Local
Pediatrician says immunizations crucial, service now offered at Gundersen La Crosse ExpressCare

Gundersen Health System is now offering pediatric immunizations at Gundersen La Crosse ExpressCare, two weeks after implementing the service for adult patients.

Raj Naik

Beginning June 1, youth 2 and older can receive routine immunizations at Gundersen La Crosse ExpressCare Clinic in the Village Shopping Center, 2500 Hwy. 33.

Appointments must be scheduled in advance through the patient’s primary care provider, and individuals are asked to remain in their vehicle until their appointment time in adherence with social-distancing efforts.

“We must ensure that children receive timely vaccines, especially at a time when immunization rates are falling dramatically nationally and locally, to prevent new outbreaks of serious diseases,” says Gundersen pediatrician Dr. Rajiv Naik. “Offering a vaccine-only location for catch-up and routine immunizations is a critical step in providing safe and convenient care for our patients and is one example of how we are looking for new opportunities to improve their experience of care.”

During “safer at home,” many hospitals and clinics delayed appointments for non-emergency services, and in addition some parents have cancelled, fearful of exposing their children or themselves to viral spread during the coronavirus pandemic. Coulee Region and tri-state area residents are among those falling behind on routine immunizations.

“We’re talking hundreds to thousands of patients who need to get caught up on vaccines,” Naik says.

At what point an overdue vaccine becomes a health risk is dependent on the type, Naik says, but Gundersen is working quickly to contact patients who need to be caught up on essential immunizations.

Naik understands the concerns patients and parents have about being in a public setting at a time when social distancing and remaining home are still recommended, but says that while children do contribute to spread of and can contract the infection, at present vaccine-preventable diseases including measles, meningitis and whooping cough prove greater threats than the coronavirus.

In addition, Naik says every precaution is being taken at all Gundersen facilities, including La Crosse ExpressCare, to maintain proper distancing between people, and all patients and staff will be required to wear a face covering while on the premises. Thorough sanitation practices continue.

At a time when the pandemic is on the top of everyone’s mind, “We have to make sure people don’t forget about their other health care needs,” Naik says.

As part of Gundersen’s ongoing mission to implement safe, innovative methods of providing health services during COVID-19 — efforts including increased telehealth options have proven successful — Naik says they will be looking at alternate ways to deliver vaccines effectively, conveniently and with limited contact time. Feedback from patients is welcomed.

“The silver lining to this horrible time we are going through is that we are looking critically at the ways we provide care, and are exploring new avenues,” Naik says.

Immunizations will continue to be available at Gundersen’s La Crosse and Onalaska family medicine and pediatrics locations. For more information, patients should contact their primary care provider or call 608-782-7300.

Databank: Learn more about COVID-19 and its spread

Local
La Crosse reports 1 new COVID case; man in early 50s

La Crosse County reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19 Sunday.

The case involves a man in his early 50s. Officials are just beginning to investigate the case.

The new case brings the county’s total to 55 confirmed cases. The county reports 47 have recovered.

No one is currently hospitalized and the county has recorded no deaths.

In all, there are 5,721 total negative test results reported for La Crosse County by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (up 534 from Saturday).

Statewide, officials Sunday reported:

Negative

  • results: 250,103 (+7,195)
  • Positive results: 18,403 (+173)
  • Hospitalizations: 2,583 (+20) (14%)
  • Total deaths: 592 (+4)