Because of 164-Year-Old Law, Guy Who Pepper-Sprayed Mayor’s Wife Becomes New Mayor

LA CROSSE, WIS — Because of a 164-year-old city ordinance, the man who pepper-sprayed Mayor Tim Kabat’s wife last week will now have to become the next mayor of La Crosse effective immediately without a choice. 

According to a police incident report, Christy Kabat was participating in a protest walk on Saturday, May 30. A verbal argument broke out during the event involving Kabat and the driver of a minivan near the intersection of 4th Street North and La Crosse Street over whether or not the driver was going  too fast near the protesters. The driver of the van, later identified as Bryan Knutson, continued to the stoplights on 4th Street following the initial confrontation when Kabat approached the vehicle again and stood in front of it. 

According to the report, Kabat then approached the driver’s side of the van and was pepper-sprayed by the driver. Knutson warned Kabat that he would pepper spray her if she did not leave them alone. Following the second incident of Kabat pounding on the hood of Knutson’s van and reaching into the driver’s side window scratching him, he then pepper-sprayed her.

The La Crosse Times has now learned that due to a law dating back to 1856, because Knutson effectively neutralized a sitting mayor’s spouse, he will assume responsibility of becoming La Crosse’s mayor effective immediately.  

The law reads as follows: 

Article III; Section 2-57: If the spouse of the mayor were to effectively lose their shit and attack a La Crosse citizen and the citizen is able to effectively defend themselves from the mayor’s spouse using pepper-spray after giving fair warning, then the La Crosse Common Council hereby crowns the citizen as mayor of La Crosse effective immediately. 

The La Crosse Times was unable to ascertain why a law so specifically written for this situation was ever created for La Crosse, especially since pepper-spray was not invented until the 1960s. It is also unknown why the law appeared to be written in the margins of the La Crosse ordinances and is obviously in the mayor’s handwriting.  

Reporter Dr. Jonathan H. Dong contributed to this article.

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