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La Crosse sees weekend demonstrations against George Floyd death; mayor’s wife pepper-sprayed during one event

Brad Williams

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Hundreds of demonstrators took part in mostly peaceful events in La Crosse this weekend, to protest the death of an African-American man while in police custody in Minneapolis.

However, city police are investigating a reported pepper-spray attack on Mayor Tim Kabat’s wife Christy during a Saturday night gathering downtown.

Police Capt. Jason Melby says the district attorney could file charges against a person who sprayed Christy Kabat during an incident where demonstrators walked in the street, causing an interruption in vehicle traffic.

On Friday night, a crowd at Riverside Park chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “Say his name,’ hours after a Minneapolis policeman was arrested on homicide charges for causing the Memorial Day death of George Floyd.

Picketers flanked both sides of the road through Riverside Park, cheering as passing drivers and even boaters on the Mississippi honked horns in support of the event.

During the demonstration, the crowd in the park went into the road and spontaneously stopped traffic while several people knelt for 9 minutes, to mark the amount of time that Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck in a video seen around the world.

After about 30 minutes, the demonstrators marched as a group on State Street and 4th Street to La Crosse City Hall, to continue their vigil outside the police station.

People gathered again Saturday at Powell Park, and then walked downtown to City Hall.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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