On June 16th, the City of La Crosse Human Rights Commission will hold a community listening session focusing on barriers and discrimination faced by Latinos in the La Crosse community. The event will be held at the Greater River Vineyard Church, 114 6th St. N., between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
This will be the third listening session held by the Commission since September, 2015. The first two focused on the African-American and LGBT community respectively. La Crosse Attorney Fabio Burgos, the Commission’s chair, says that these sessions inform the Commissions work, providing a sense from the community about what they feel are the most pressing issues that they face in terms of discrimination.
“We are still in the process of determining what the most effective use of the commission will be,” says Burgos. “The consensus is that we would like to focus on a few issues thoroughly rather than try to address everything in a piecemeal fashion. An example of one thing we have focused on is getting reports from the County Juvenile Justice Task Force on steps being taken to address the disproportionate minority juvenile arrest rate in La Crosse.”
This particular listening session also has a sense of urgency because of national politics. “Given what we are seeing on a national level, where prominent individuals and institutions are using the Latin-American population as scapegoats for economic hardships, I think this is an excellent time to hear from Latinos in our city and find out what obstacles they have encountered and hopefully get ideas of steps to address those difficulties,” says Burgos.
This listening session provides an excellent opportunity for our community to express and hear concerns related to discrimination and barriers, and to better understand the work being undertaken by the Commission. The Human Rights Commission directly addresses allegations of discrimination in housing and access to facilities in La Crosse, Burgos says, “so it is important that the community is aware that a resource exists to address these complaints. On a broader scale, the Commission’s directive is to collaborate with other community organizations to work to address discrimination in the City of La Crosse. It’s semi-unusual for a City this size to have created such a commission, so I look at that as a positive. There is much work to be done, but recognizing a need for an organization on a City level that is devoted to addressing discrimination is an important first step.”
Please attend the session if you can, and spread the word about this important opportunity for listening, learning, and addressing discrimination in our community.