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Something special happened that I feel puts La Crosse on the right side of history.

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Elegbede

More than 100 people of all stripes came out in the frigid cold temperatures to show solidarity to a Muslim business owner who was a victim of a hate crime.

The hate crime was racist and Islamophobic, but the response from the La Crosse community was loud and clear with the phrase “One Community. One Family. Hate Has No Business Here.”

The La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network thanks the entire La Crosse community for its strong support.

We thank the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Islamophobia Working Group and Showing Up for Racial Justice for their active and consistent collaboration.

We thank the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration for their support. We thank Mayor Tim Kabat, the La Crosse Police Department, La Crosse County’s District Attorney’s office and UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow for their strong statement and actions regarding hate crime.

We thank local artists Adam Faeth and Cathryn Dagendesh for joining the community response to paint a beautiful sign over the graffiti.

We thank the People’s Food Co-op for donating delicious coffee to keep community members warm. We thank the La Crosse Fire Department for its unannounced show of solidarity. We thank La Crosse MTU for providing a bus to keep community members warm. We thank local media for the responsible coverage of this important story. Lastly, we thank area businesses and individuals for printing our “Hate Has No Business Here” signs.

As an American Muslim, it was great to see our community’s outpouring of love, compassion, togetherness and strength.

Behind the scenes, great leadership was displayed as well. Mayor Kabat, La Crosse Police Chief Ron Tisher, Assistant Police Chief Rob Abraham and Chancellor Gow took this seriously and called it what it is, a hate crime.

The La Crosse Police Department is still investigating, so if you know something, say something.

There is still so much to do, however. Yes, the community rallied and made a strong statement that bigotry, racism, Islamophobia and intolerance will not divide La Crosse, but hard work remains. Here are some simple things you can do right now to make a different.

  • Get to know one another: Seek neighborly relationships with Muslims, underrepresented minorities and immigrants. Be honest with yourself. Are all your friends white, black or from a specific religious group? Expand your circle. Talk to people who look different than you do or worship differently that you do. Be your brother’s keeper.
  • How do we avoid the mistakes of the past? We do so by learning from history so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. Have these conversations in your household, with your kids, at the workplace, religious institutions and schools.
  • Visit a local mosque or synagogue or church, have a respectful conversation with people of different faiths or no faith. Break bread and eat with one another.
  • Do not stereotype and scapegoat Muslims, Jews, underrepresented populations, immigrants and refugees.
  • Stand up against bigotry, racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, intolerance in a peaceful, respectful but direct manner. Resist xenophobia.

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Wale Elegbede of La Crosse wrote this on behalf of the La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network.

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(51) comments

DMoney

From the author himself "The La Crosse Police Department is still investigating, so if you know something, say something." The amount of press on this issue, occurring at the same time as the smollet scam, is staggering. What if they find it's the owner? I'm quite sure you'll be holding YOUR tongue if that happens won't you?

Cassandra2

So instead of waiting "till the investigation is complete before passing any emotion or judgement" the D-bag offers up a false comparison to the Smollett case and implies, without any facts, that the victim may be the perpetrator. THIS is precisely the type of permeating racism that we've come to expect from the wingnut crowd.

DMoney

The victim MAY be the perpetrator, C-bag. Until the investigation is complete, nobody knows. That's all I'm saying, that's all I've ever said. Accusing someone you don't know on groundless claims of something terrible, and then proclaiming all on the right of the same terrible thing is wrong.

martian2

And you re going to stay silent in this case because of one made up hate crime in Chicago. So from that one incident Dmoney, you are going to assume all minorities can't be trusted when they make a claim of a crime against them. You are going to stay silent. You didn't say anything about a white business owner claims of crimes against them. You specifically said because of recent event(s) you are uncertain if this recent crime in La crosse is real. Now something reeks of racism here. Because of that incident in Chicago no minorities claims should be taken as true at face value. That not only reeks of racism, it is racism pure and simple.

oldhomey

Is your brain shrinking, D? You are going to jump on a story like this and make wild, reckless speculations and act surprised and hurt by the blowback? You ought to be ashamed.

DMoney

Nobody can be trusted at face value when reporting a crime. That's why any reported crime is investigated, including this one. It's not racist to want to act and offer opinion only after something has been validated. Rather, it's called being responsible.

DMoney

It's a "wild" speculation to say that this incident could be a hoax? If we were discussing the smollet case a month ago, and I offered the same observation, would you have called that a "wild" speculation? In fact, there was an exchange between Martian and I about that roughly a month ago. I believe he called me a racist homophobe then. You can look that up if your heart desires.

My brain appears to be one of the few functioning ones here. I'm the only one who's not prematurely e*********** over an unfinished investigation.

oldhomey

I had doubts about the Smollett accusation from the outset, D. Did you see me jump on here and offer my totally uninformed ideas and suspicions about it? What would that have added to any understanding or lack of understanding of what happened? There is a word for people who do what you have done in this case. You are a busybody. That means you are a mischief-maker, troublemaker, gossip, scandalmonger, eavesdropper, intruder, ghoul. In other words, the opposite of a good, responsible citizen of the community. Learn to keep you thoughts to yourself until the investigation is complete.

DMoney

I haven't made one assumption, opinion, or declaration aside from stating that I doubted the owner did it. You are good at citing quotes--go find that one. Keep an eye out for things I said to the contrary, but good luck with that.

What you are claiming I am is exactly what I am fighting against and what motivated me to comment on this subject: there's been a community rally, a publicized re-painting, an opinion article declaring "there is evil in our city" and two manifestos from the guy with the equality organization instructing people how to combat racicm--ALL based on assuming this was a hate crime, before an investigation is complete. I'm a busybody???

DMoney

All of this taking place the very week a similar hate crime was proven to be a hoax very near here, forcing politicians and celebrities to waffle and backtrack. And a month after another somewhat similar incident resulted in the same waffling. That's called precedent. And you are all blind to it, desperate to rally around a tangible anti-Trump symbol even if it means being irresponsible.

Cassandra2

And you MAY be a child molester, D-bag. Until the investigation is complete nobody knows.

martian2

Far as I know Smollet has not been convicted of a crime, so isn't he innocent until proven guilty. Or is that just for a rule for some but not others.

DMoney

Correct, he's not been proven guilty, but at least there's enough evidence to prosecute. The day the local police declare they have a suspect is the day I'll publicly express my opinion on the matter.

oldhomey

You have already expressed your opinion on the incident, D, finding, for some reason, the need to publicly raise your suspicions about the business owner. What will that accomplish? And the only reason you can manage to cause your suspicion is that in other cases people in a few other instances that you know of have made false claims of hate crimes? Thanks but no thanks.

DMoney

For the 10th and final time, I've not stated once my opinion on the perpetrator of this crime. The only opinion I've offered about the crime itself is that the owner probably didn't do it. I've stated clearly and repeatedly that my focus is on the irresponsible reporting, sensationalizing, and commenting on this crime. People doing exactly what you are NOT doing oldhomey--nor I--which is stating an opinion on who did what.

I'm done with this--until the investigation is completed and the findings announced or until there is more press coverage presented as fact.

martian2

If by some slim chance the owner is the perpetrator, then that owner will face the consequences. And they will be severe I'm sure. But me and others still will say racism is wrong. We will still say minorities should be treated equally as anyone else. We will not stereotype minorities by saying they can't be trusted. We will still treat minorities as we would want to be treated. That clear enough for ya!

DMoney

And, as someone who interacts with primarily minorities on a daily basis, having done so for more than a decade, I'll agree with you.

oldhomey

Rather than talk the talk, D, why don't you walk the walk?

DMoney

I did today and will do again tomorrow and hopefully for many days after. Do you?

oldhomey

I don't feel the need to publicize my interactions with minorities, D. Your doing so seems awfully defensive in tone and nature. And, as you know, talk is cheap.

DMoney

You asked. Whether or not you believe me, that's your decision.

oldhomey

Rather than call it a decision, D, let's call it a choice. You boast that you make good choices. I try not to boast.

martian2

So what if by slim slim chance it is the owner who made a false claim. Just like the Smollet case, so what. does that prove all minorities are not to be trusted? Is racism then justified, bigotry is ok, stereotyping should be encouraged? Nothing changes Dmoney, except for the one person who made the false claim. Otherwise all those things that bring society down to the gutter are still wrong, even though you may not think so. Promoting equality and equal rights for all Americans doesn't hinge on the outcome of this one case or any case. It is always important to promote those things for a just and peaceful society. Funny how you want to take a step back and not be positive force because one case just might be a false report. It is much bigger than that, bigger than you can grasp. This is no time to hold your tongue.

DMoney

I'll wait till the investigation is complete before passing any emotion or judgement. But assuming this was a hate crime, the response was impressive.

martian2

the world breathes a sigh of relief knowing you are going to withhold emotion or judgement Dmoney. Meanwhile the message in this column is truly worthwhile. Get to know your Jewish and Muslim and Black neighbors, Don't stereotype minorities, stand with them side by side. Get outside your comfort zone and reach out with kindness. Those type of emotions and judgments and actions are needed now in this world, more than never.

Rick Czeczok

Wow you just can't help yourself. You and your socialist party just have to attack in order to survive. By the way this is the old Kingman who was kicked off this board for causing trouble and spewing lies about others. He is now starting again under a Martian name. Pretty sad, but that's how socialist work, they go along with the flavor of the day and then next time flip flop to fit their needs and that flavor of the day. Using peace and the need for understanding falsely to fit their needs is so wrong.

martian2

Hi there my pal ricky boy. Did you forget to say something about this column and what it is about? You added nothing to the conversation but more ignorance. Par for the course. How is that teaching career going? Oops now I stooped to your level.

Cassandra2

Why does comrade Zerocock stand so firmly against neighborly kindness and understanding? I've long suspected it's because he is a Russian troll, sent to these pages to sow dissent and mistrust in an effort to undermine our American institutions and shared values. His comment above does nothing to allay those suspicions.

Rick Czeczok

Casey, right like you being a socialist has societies interest in mind. By the way what is it with you and your obsession of the male anatomy? Kind of sick for a substitute teacher. Now go back to that triple big mac order, num, num. num.

Cassandra2

Once again, the good comrade is unable to refute facts and logic and instead turns to juvenile fat-shaming attempts against someone he can never truthfully claim to have met. How pathetic.

Cassandra2

And now Comrade Zerocock claims I'm a substitute teacher. That's interesting. Maybe it's because I'm constantly correcting his bad grammar and spelling.

oldhomey

Sometimes, D, holding your tongue is the best policy, and in this instance you blew that opportunity.

DMoney

Who else is holding their tongue besides me on this one?

DMoney

I'm the only one who is, which is my point. Ignore that at your own peril. Me? If it's a confirmed hate crime, I'll join the parade. If it's a hoax, I'll get to have an opinion, unlike any of you.

oldhomey

You already expressed your opinion, D. You have your doubts about the Muslim business owner, and you announced that opinion to the world without a scintilla of reason to back your doubts.

DMoney

The only doubts that I expressed--literally, using the word doubt--were that the owner did it. I'm reserved about drinking the Kool aid, because I don't let emotion sweep me away and guide my reactions.

martian2

and why do you mistrust the owners word, because he is a minority. that is clear enough. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...its racism. Your new standard of not believing anything until the investigation is complete comes from your stereotyping minorities now. All racism is wrong no matter how this recent hate crime turns out. We as a community must stand up together and promote equality no matter what. I would hope you agree.

oldhomey

Does this sound like you "doubt" the owner did it, D?:

"All of this taking place the very week a similar hate crime was proven to be a hoax very near here, forcing politicians and celebrities to waffle and backtrack. And a month after another somewhat similar incident resulted in the same waffling. That's called precedent. And you are all blind to it, desperate to rally around a tangible anti-Trump symbol even if it means being irresponsible."

And who on this string has made this into an anti-Trump harangue, as you allege?

Who on this string has acted irresponsibly except for the one poster who from the outset suggested we all should perhaps be thinking of the possibility that this was a staged crime by the owner of the garage?

And who except for one poster on here has suggested that by positing that suggestion would give him the right to that opinion if it turns out to be so? " If it's a confirmed hate crime, I'll join the parade. If it's a hoax, I'll get to have an opinion, unlike any of you."

Who would that one poster be, D? I think it would be you.

DMoney

The entire time, arguing not for who's at fault, but that it's inappropriate, immature, and unprofessional (for a news organization) to declare fact in the face of uncertainty. That would be me. Regardless of the severity or target or perpetrator--there are investigations for a reason. As we've been reminded of very sharply and recently.

Anyone who rushes to judgement loses their ability to credibly shift to another opinion.

DMoney

Martian, how is it clear that I question the owners role because of his being a minority? Have I said I don't like minorities, ever, in any comment I've ever made? No. So how's that clear for you? I'm genuinely curious.

DMoney

Another thing, your accusations of me being racist is a violation of the rules of this board. I'm tired of it, and I will start reporting.

oldhomey

Good Lord, D, review what you have said about minorities living in California. And now you are trying to dodge the bullet by saying that the Tribune somehow took sides in this story when it simply reported the incident, the people connected to it and that the police were investigating it. If you are going to now try to dredge up some perceived sin of the Tribune to get the heat off of you, you had better present a bill of particulars to make your case against the newspaper. You simply cannot seem to learn the lesson that it is best to keep your mouth shut when you don't know what is going on.

martian2

I have not called you a racist Dmoney, but I will point out your views have racist ideas. And the arguments on this board pretty much proves it. You may not realize it, or understand what racism is, but your arguments have racist tones. I won't hesistate to point them out, whether its you or your pals hoaxer and veteran or whoever. Calling a victim of a hate crime the possible perpetrator without a shred of evidence is obviously racist. So hold your tongue against racism and bigotry. In order for evil to thrive, all it takes is for good men to do nothing.

DMoney

Is there a shred of evidence that the crime was committed by an evil white la Crosse resident?

martian2

well Dmoney there is ample evidence that a hate crime was committed. Whether it be from a white person or someone else doesn't matter. Racist hate crime is wrong period. Doesn't matter who does it, it is wrong. is that clear enough for ya.

oldhomey

Personally, D, I have chosen not to speculate who painted that hate message on that building. I will patiently await the outcome of the police investigation. Do you have a problem with that? Evidently so, and it has become a huge problem for you of your own making.

DMoney

Oldhomey, thanks for being responsible and mature. May readers and the Tribune follow your example.

DMoney

Martian, if it doesn't matter, why the community rally at the owners location? Why the articles declaring hate in our community? Would these things have happened if police investigations found this to be a hoax?

oldhomey

D, thanks for your heartfelt vote of confidence in me. As for the community demonstration against the hate crime, how do you find that indefensible? It would seem to me to be an honest expression of deep abhorrence of that sort of event no matter what the outcome of the police investigation might show. Those people honestly objected to the message on that building, but I don't think you can accuse them of jumping to any conclusions, like you did.

DMoney

The business owner was front and center. He's automatically and unquestionably the victim and a white, racist, evil mysterious person out there is automatically to blame. Case closed, que the opinion articles presented as news, que the manifesto.

oldhomey

You CONTINUE to dig yourself into an ever deeper hole, D! The owner of the business where a racist message was painted shows up at a public rally decrying the incident. And you, you old moralist, seem to want and insist that the Tribune and the community in general should regard the owner as a strong possible suspect for being behind painting the racist message? You, who constantly defend Donald Trump and his minions, counseling us to regard people as being innocent until proven guilty, want to out of the gate cast this owner in a deep shadow of suspicion? What a gentleman you are.

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