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Officials across the county release joint statement on racism

By Patrick Lynn

Portage County leaders signed a joint declaration Wednesday formally condemning “all forms of racism, hate, bigotry, and intimidation.”

The Declaration on Racism and Marginalized Communities in Central Wisconsin was signed by Portage County Executive Chris Holman, Portage Co. Board Chairman Al Haga, Portage Co. Sheriff Mike Lukas, Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza, Council President Meleesa Johnson, acting Police Chief Tom Zenner, Plover Administrator Dan Mahoney, Plover Police Chief Dan Ault, Town of Lanark Chairman Mike Pagel, and UWSP Police Chief Tony Babl.

“We are committed to ensuring that all residents have equitable and fair access to public services and those no one should ever have to feel afraid or unsafe in our community,” the statement reads in part. “It is our shared responsibility and commitment to educate [sic] our community, work with people of color and other marginalized members of our community, and, most importantly, take actions to end racism, hate, bigotry, and intimidation in our community.”

The statement follows the unanimous passage on Tuesday of the creation of a Diversity Affairs and Inclusive Committee by the Portage Co. Board of Supervisors.

Holman said the joint statement was not a “vague platitude, but rather the beginning of a much broader and longer-term conversation” that will continue through the new committee.

“I am looking forward to supporting their leadership in this area and listening to and learning from those who will be serving on the committee,” he said.

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