“Our group is not politically affiliated in anyway and our campaign is not politically affiliated,” said Josh Hertel, the ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ campaign organizer.
After first agreeing to allow the group ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ to hang signs in Weigent park in La Crosse, the Parks and Recreation Department has now decided to remove the signs.
“What happened was, once the signs were placed in the park, we had other signs that were placed next to them that were counter messaging,” said Jay Odegaard, the director of La Crosse Parks, Recreation, and Forestry in La Crosse.
Parks and Rec says they received several complaints about the signs with some claiming they had political ties.
However, the campaign says they aren’t aligned with any party.
“We’re really trying to respond to local incidents, things that have happened,” Hertel said.
The campaign says they were contacted by the Parks and Rec Department when the decision was made to remove the signs.
The La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department still says they support the message of the campaign.
“Definitely the message of making our parks and all city property for that matter welcoming to everyone,” Odegaard said.
While the signs are no longer allowed on city property, the neighborhood yards surrounding the park have seen an increase in signs.
“After the signs were removed from the park, we wondered if we would be able to have more neighbors put up signs around the park and they have,” Hertel said. “People have come forward and asked for signs.”
Moving forward, Odegaard wants to develop a more black and white list of regulations that signs need to meet to be approved by the city.
The Parks and Recreation Department also has a solution to keep the welcoming message at their parks.
“[We want to] create our own signs… that’s going to portray that message that our parks are welcoming,” Odergaard said. “We want everyone to come and enjoy them.”
For now, the ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ campaign hopes to continue to show solidarity and create a conversation, even without their signs at the park.