Islamophobia has no place in La Crosse, WI
La Crosse, WI. – The thermometer read zero on the afternoon of February 15, but that didn’t prevent upwards of 100 people from coming out and showing their support for the local Muslims.
The rally was held to protest an act of vandalism in which a slur for a Middle-Eastern or Muslim person was spray-painted on the garage door of the Bullet Cab Company, a local business owned by Mian “Mike” Ahmad, who is Muslim. As of this time no suspects have been identified for this hate crime.
Speakers led chants espousing the need for equality, and “freedom and justice for all!” After the speakers had their say Ahmad was presented with over $1000 from a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the graffiti cleanup. The space has since been painted over with a mural by local artists Cathryn Dagendesh and Adam Faeth which reads, “One community, one family, hate has no place here!”
Looking back, however, La Crosse has a history as a ‘sundown city’ during the heyday of overt segregation across United States. This history serves as a reminder that racist discrimination was far from contained to the southern states. The occurrence of this hate crime reminds us to remain strong against the rising tide of xenophobia and national chauvinism.
The perpetrator of this hateful vandalism was ideologically aided and abetted by those in the highest seats of power in the government and media. These figures are directly responsible for the actions of these and other people by providing a platform to normalize and incite the far-right, fascist ideology.
“While I am glad that so many people showed up to voice their support, including some prominent community members, we need to be proactive in our attempts to root out racist ideology of all kinds and not just reactively decry racism after the fact,” said rally attendee Jeremy Schroeder. “These types of people are mobilizing and becoming stronger every day and we need to rise to meet them or nobody will.”
The rally was organized by the La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network, Showing Up for Social Justice, and the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse (UWL) Campus Climate and was attended by such area notables as Mayor Tim Kabat and UWL Chancellor Joe Gow.