La Crosse Police said Monday they are investigating a recent case of racist graffiti as a hate crime.
“This incident is not a reflection of our community, but rather a reflection of a hate-filled person,” Chief Ron Tischer said.
Police are searching for suspects after the spray-painted racial slur, “Sand [N-word] Mike,” found on a Muslim-owned local business, Bullet Cab, on Wednesday. The racial slur was washed off the same day.
This comes after the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on law enforcement authorities to investigate the racist slur spray-painted on a local business Friday.
Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, called it a “hate vandalism targeting a Muslim business in La Crosse, Wis.,” the council said.
“We call on political and religious leaders in Wisconsin to denounce this hateful act targeting a Muslim business owner and urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate it as a possible hate crime,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.
The advocacy group said it “has witnessed an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president,” Hussein said.
Bullet Cab owner Mian “Mike” Ahmad and his family received support from fellow La Crosse residents.
“Me and my family are very grateful to the community of La Crosse for their help and support. Let’s all of us stand against crime,” Ahmad said.
La Crosse police intend to pursue “enhanced penalties for hate crimes as allowed under Wisconsin law and refer the case to the La Crosse County District Attorney’s office for prosecution,” authorities said.
“The La Crosse Police Department will not tolerate hate crimes, racism or any other cowardly act meant to alienate a member of our community. We are a diverse city with a history of acceptance. We will not allow that to change.”
During the initial on-site investigation, police could not find any surveillance cameras on neighboring houses or business, according to the criminal complaint.
La Crosse police urge the community to help. Tips can be made anonymously and there may be a cash reward.
The police department provided contact information for anonymous tips: 608-784-TIPS (8477) or online at www.lacrossecrimestoppers.com.
There is also a phone app, the Crime Stoppers App “P3,” if people would like to submit a tip on their phone.