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Police investigating ‘deliberate’ crosswalk vandalism

By Brandi Makuski

University police are investigating what they believe is a deliberate act of vandalism on a newly-installed Pride crosswalk near UWSP.

Sometime Wednesday night, two “burnout incidents” occurred on the Reserve St. rainbow crosswalk, which was installed earlier this week as a sign of inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community, between the Dreyfus University Center and the university library.

According to a joint news release from Mayor Mike Wiza and UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson on Friday, “criminal charges are being pursued.”

UWSP Police Chief Tony Babl said some of the individuals involved posted a video of the incident on social media.

It was not immediately clear how the vandalism was reported to police, or who was requesting charges against the two individuals being pursued.

“Those involved are not connected to the university, and restitution is being sought for the damage,” the joint statement reads.

“We’re working with the Stevens Point Police Department, and the Portage County District Attorney, to hold those responsible for these acts accountable,” Babl said. “Hopefully, this will deter other people from doing the same thing.”

Patterson said the university was “committed to creating and celebrating an inclusive, diverse community, and the crosswalk publicly demonstrates this support.”

Wiza said he was “pleased” with the rapid response from UWSP police.

“We want to assure everyone that we will not tolerate this type of hateful behavior toward any person or group in our community,” Wiza said.

Crews from the city’s public works department installed its first layer of white border paint around the rainbow segments, previously painted in by UWSP students, on Tuesday. Streets Superintendent Dennis Laidlaw said the cool autumn weather wasn’t the best conditions for the paint to adhere and lengthened drying times.

After assessing the crosswalk paint Wednesday afternoon, the streets department determined it would need to apply three more coats of white paint.

“Work has already begun to repair the damage to the crosswalk and will be completed soon,” the joint statement said, but did not include any details on the exact extent of the damage.

A call to Stevens Point police for additional information was not immediately returned.