Wisconsin County cuts funding to domestic violence shelter that showed support for BLM

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(WEAU)  An advocacy group for survivors of domestic and sexual violence says it’s facing backlash after releasing a statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

As the Black Lives Matter movement spread across the country this summer, the Northwest Wisconsin non-profit Embrace put up signs of support.

A few weeks later, Embrace’s Executive Director Katie Bement says there were complaints about the small displays.

“We knew there was push back from the Black Lives Matter sign, and we had started hearing messages or misinterpretations of Black Lives Matter, so we ended up releasing this statement in late September to help correct some of those misconceptions we were hearing,” Bement said.

The statement read in part: “Embrace adds their voices affirming the humanity and dignity of Black, Indigenous, People of Color.”

It continues to say “Racism, police violence, sexual violence and domestic violence all have the same root causes, and they interact and compound on each other both in society and within the survivors we serve.”

Once the statement was released, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department ended its relationship with the domestic violence support group.

Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald cited Embrace’s support of Black Lives Matter as the reason.

“We’re trying not to marginalize law enforcement in this and that’s what I stand for,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m obviously a law enforcement officer, and I stand with law enforcement officers. Does not mean that law enforcement officers are always right. I would agree with that and it doesn’t mean we can’t be better at the jobs we’re doing.”

The county’s Board of Supervisors pulled $25,000 budgeted for the group in 2021.

Board chair Louie Okey said in a phone call with WEAU the county will fulfill its financial obligation to Embrace for the rest of this year, but the Board stands with the Sheriff’s Department.

As to where victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will be referred for services next year, in Barron county, Okey says that hasn’t been decided.

Embrace set up a GoFundMe account to help cover the $25,000 revoked by Barron County.

So far they’ve received over $94,000 in pledges.

To read Embrace’s full statement, click HERE. To read the Barron County Sheriff’s statement, click HERE.

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