LA CROSSE, WIS — In a referendum this week, the people of La Crosse – a city of a nearly 90% Caucasian population – handily decided that they don’t believe the Hiawatha statue in Riverside Park is racist.
The measure passed by just about a 9 to 1 margin. Proponents of keeping the statue like city council representative Gary Padesky said that should be enough to put the debate to rest.
“The people of La Crosse have spoken and we always have good judgement here,” Padesky said while wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts in the middle of winter.
However, members of the Ho-Chunk Nation expressed concerns, saying the referendum itself was flawed.
“A group of white people don’t think this is racist? Who gives a shit? That’s not up to you,” Dan Green, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, said. “When someone tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide whether that’s true.”
However, the latter half of Green’s message was overshadowed by a large number of commenters berating him for quoting an episode of disgraced sexual predator Louis CK’s FX show.
“You can’t just appropriate something from someone else and then pass it off as your own” one commenter said. “That’s just not fair!”
After reading that comment, doctors at Gundersen Health System said Green suffered an aneurysm caused by extreme irony.
Hiawatha still stands in Riverside Park, greeting people who get a tan lining up for hours to ride a paddle boat.
Reporter Sam Shilts contributed to this article.