MADISON, Wis. - The Madison mayor said recently reported racist incidents are not individual incidents, but are part of an issue affecting all Madisonians and said the city needs to stand united in opposition to hate.
"It is us that this is all about. This is a battle for everyone one of us," Mayor Paul Soglin said Wednesday morning in downtown Madison.
Soglin said Madison would continue to be "a member of a coalition of cities around the U.S. that are firmly committed to protecting the rights of all people regardless of their status in the U.S."
Soglin, police Chief Mike Koval and City Attorney Mike May said they held news conference to reaffirm their policies with regard to how the city plans to handle immigration policies that may be handed down by the federal government under President-elect Donald Trump.
The city leaders said that the November presidential election had given rise to "shared fears and apprehensions by many in our community."
"I think we're seeing an uptick in a number of people who are being attacked verbally and otherwise. Not so much here in city, but around the country," May said. "I think we've got to be vigilant for all sorts of folks (including) people of color. Certain religions are being attacked and I think everyone has to be vigilant to watch out for people's individual civil rights."
Koval said the police department stands ready to protect the constitutional rights and individual liberties of Madisonians. He said the department's community policing mission means it works to be inclusive and accessible to all communities.
Koval said while the department cooperates with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, it doesn't share the same mission, and MPD wouldn't be "coerced, coopted, cajoled or threatened into assisting" ICE with benign offenses."
Koval said he observed apprehension and concern at a recent candlelight vigil in central Madison, so he wanted to gather with other city leaders to reaffirm a sense of unity.
"(You want to) validate a sense of, 'Where does my city fall into the grand scheme of this algorithm that's taking place across the national stage?'" Koval said. "We can only deal with what we can deal with here in Madison."
Koval also said the police department is investigating a racist letter sent to two transracial families at the West Madison Swim Club Tuesday. Koval called the letter abhorrent and said it was shocking in its "profound nature of incivility and hostility."
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