The funding of La Crosse’s police department is being debated by the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Commission.
It comes in the wake of George Floyd’s death and demonstrations in La Crosse and around the country.
La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said at Monday’s meeting racism in the community needs to be addressed.
“Yes, we do have systemic racism,” Kabat said. “It’s not only policing, it is in housing and affordable housing policies and lending, it’s in just about every facet of our lives.”
The black population makes up only 4 percent of La Crosse’s population.
Commission member Jennifer Trost, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, cited the recent arrest of a driver on West Avenue as an example of police possibly using more force than needed.
“It’s the entire way that the criminal justice system has been built in order to disproportionately police people of color,” Trost said.
The commission said recent budget cuts in La Crosse prompted by the coronavirus lowered police spending by less than 1 percent, compared to a 12 percent cut for the library.