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'All are welcome': La Crosse parks to display inclusive signs starting Saturday

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New signs

La Crosse parks will display "All Are Welcome" signs starting Saturday in response to local hate and bias incidents over the past several years. "We need to work together to ensure that we are creating inclusive spaces where individuals feel welcome and safe," says Josh Hertel, a UWL professor and community organizer.

Organizers of La Crosse’s Hate Has No Home Here campaign will gather at Weigent Park Saturday to celebrate the installation of “All Are Welcome” signage at public parks throughout the city.

The permanent signs were developed by the La Crosse Parks Department in response to local hate and bias incidents over the past several years.

Community leaders and city officials will join organizers at the event, which is set for 3 p.m. at the Weigent Park playground. The public is encouraged to attend.

“It is essential that members of the community, particularly white folks, stand up, disrupt and push back against hateful incidents when we encounter them,” says Josh Hertel, an associate professor in UWL’s Mathematics and Statistics Department and co-organizer with La Crosse’s Hate Has No Home Here campaign. “Moreover, we need to work together to ensure that we are creating inclusive spaces where individuals feel welcome and safe.”

Hertel notes that this message holds added significance with the recent arrival of Afghan refugees at Fort McCoy.

“Sadly, I have recently seen images of hateful flyers targeting Afghan refugees, created by a well-known white supremacist group,” he explains. “These flyers are part of a broader campaign by white supremacist organizations to spread messages of hate and bias within our community.”

Hertel hopes the “All Are Welcome” signs, as well as the broader Hate Has No Home Here campaign, will raise awareness about incidents of hate and bias and spark discussion about how La Crosse can become a more inclusive community.

Those hoping to get involved can pick up “Hate Has No Home Here” yard signs and window clings at the event. Donations can be made here.

The Weigent-Hogan Neighborhood Association, the La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network, the La Crosse Public Library and the Anti-Islamophobia Working Group at UWL also collaborated on the event.

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