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Chief of Police offers requested statement regarding racism, policing

On Thursday, June 11, Hayward Chief of Police Joel Clapero offered a statement to the Sawyer County Record regarding racism and policing after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who was killed on May 25 while being detained by City of Minneapolis Police officers.

After Floyd's death, there have been protests around the country and world including Hayward, calling out for reform of policing and addressing the larger issue of systemic racism.

At the Monday, June 8, city council meeting, five women, including four residents of the city, asked the council and Chief Clapero to make official statements against systemic racism as some other Northland law enforcement officers have done, including the chiefs of police in Shell Lake and Ashland.

Clapero told the Record at the time of the June 8 council meeting he had a "misunderstanding" what was being requested.

Clapero explained his thought process in deciding to make his June 11 statement.

"It is very difficult being a police officer in today's society and officers are usually very guarded with their statements as we are supposed to be fair and impartial in all of our dealings," he said. "I was reluctant to make a statement about the George Floyd incident and the officers that were in the center of the tragedy. I was under the impression that I was being asked to comment on that situation. As wrong and as tragic as the actions of the officer in question were, I believe in the criminal justice system. The officers in question will have their day in court and a jury

will decide their fate."

He added, "After the fact, I realized I was asked to make a statement on racism in general.

"My entire adult life has been about serving all citizens of the United States of America as a U.S. Marine and all the citizens of Hayward as a police officer. I have always tried my hardest to remain impartial and see the good in all people, regardless of the differences we may have.

"I know the officers in the City of Hayward follow these same values and work hard to be the best they can be for their community. A majority of the media has gone beyond to portray all officers in a negative light. This makes it very hard to want to speak about the subject. I believe with all my heart that all people are equal and deserve the same treatment regardless of race. I also believe that actions speak louder than words and my actions as an officer and resident of this community for 20 years shows my true heart and where I stand on fair and impartial treatment."

He added, "I am a supporter of peaceful protest and the positive change it can bring. I am completely against looting, violence and some of the verbal and physical violence that police officers were subjected to for doing their jobs during some of the protests. I hope as a society we can come together, not as Democrat or Republican, but as Americans and work on bettering our criminal justice system and make it fair and equal for all."

Chief Clapero's June 11 statement:

"Instances of police brutality and misconduct do exist in our country. The most recent tragedy in Minneapolis does make me aware of my responsibilities as a law enforcement leader. It is the responsibility of all law enforcement leaders to hold ourselves and our officers accountable. We must work closer with our communities to develop a justice system that serves all Americans equally.

"The actions of the officers in question are not attributed to everyone who wears a police uniform. We must now work to regain the trust of the public. To regain that trust we must be sincere, patient and empathetic when carrying out the duties of our profession.

"The City of Hayward Police Department will continue to work hard, to provide absolute impartial service to the law, regardless of race, gender or status by offering individual service and friendship to members of the community and by offering individual sacrifice in protecting life and property."

Joel P. Clapero Chief of Police City of Hayward


Petition filed to recall Spider Lake chairman

Seventy-one Town of Spider Lake voters have filed a petition for an election to recall Town Chairman John Leighton, setting the stage for a probable recall vote on Tuesday, Aug. 11—the same date as the state-wide fall 2020 primary election.

Town Clerk Chelsea Tripodi told the Record the petition was filed with her on June 8. The minimum number of Spider Lake eligible voters needing to sign a recall petition for it to be valid is 69, which is 25 percent of the number of town voters in the last governor's election.

At the Record's request, Tripodi provided a copy of the petition. She said Leighton will have 10 days, until June 18, to challenge the signatures on the petition. Those challenged will have five days to file a rebuttal, and Leighton will have two days to respond to the rebuttal. Tripodi then (on June 18) plans to sign a certificate that the petition is sufficient.

Individuals then will be able to circulate nomination papers to run for chairperson on Aug. 11, with a deadline of July 14 to file their papers. Leighton would automatically be on the Aug. 11 election ballot.

Leighton was elected as town chairman in April 2019, defeating incumbent Brian Hucker by a vote of 142 to 76.

In next week's Record, a story will outline the petitioners' reasons for the recall, and Leighton's response.


Ladysmith man, 38, charged for vandalizing memorial

A Ladysmith man, Jason V. Desecki, 38, was arrested Tuesday, June 9, by Sawyer County sheriff's deputies for allegedly setting the June 2 fire that damaged the Deputy Michael Villiard memorial monument on Hwy. 27-70 in the Village of Couderay.

Sawyer County Sheriff Doug Mrotek said that during an in-

vestigation of a domestic abuse incident in Rusk County, the Ladysmith Police Department obtained information regarding a possible suspect in the burning of the memorial, that Desecki intentionally set fire to the memorial and was possibly staying at a residence in Sawyer County.

Sawyer County deputies located Desicki at a residence on John Erickson Avenue in the town of Bass Lake. He is charged with arson of property other than a building and is also facing charges in the Rusk County case.

Desecki is being held in the Sawyer County Jail awaiting a bond hearing.

Mrotek added that there are future plans to take the memorial down to restore it to its original condition.


Friends run a virtual Washington half-marathon right here in Hayward

They call themselves "The Merry Band of Running Fools."

The women are all dedicated to fitness and, as their names implies, they are consumed with running.

In the spring the women typically enter a half-marathon and compete together.

After entering local races in Madeline Island, the Twin Cities and Duluth, three years ago they began a new tradition called "Runcation (run and vacation)," a destination trip focusing around a halfmarathon.

Their first runcation was in Moab, Utah. The following year they ran in Maine.

This year the women were set to compete in the 2020 North Olympic Discovery Marathon in the state of Washington.

Then COVID-19 pandemic concerns lead to the cancellation of the Washington race, but on Saturday, June 16, the women ran their Olympic Discovery Half-Marathon anyway. They just ran it in Hayward.

Like many large competitions around the country, when the Washington halfmarathon closed the physical race, the event offered or encouraged a virtual version of itself with participants running at other sites, with social distancing in mind.

"They sent us our race packets with our bib numbers, medals and T-shirt, and we just had to send in our race results," said Sue Scheer.

Starting from the Lumberjack Bowl and back, eight women ran the city and town walking and biking trails, and then out to Hospital Road to Riverside Road to Wheeler Road, and to Chippewa Trail, and back and out on Olker Road.

"I liked it better because normally you have to worry about getting there really early for parking and then finding the bathroom," said Kristin Lundberg Frane. "It was really easy."

Scheer said her mother's home was in the middle of the course, and they used it as a water and food station.

Before the half-marathon was canceled, Colleen Graham wasn't going to be able to run in Washington. She could, however, participate in the Hayward virtual version.

"I was as excited to finish this event with this small group as I was to finish any other half marathons we finished, because we haven't really been together or run together much. So it was really a fun day," said Graham.

Respecting COVID-19 concerns, the women trained separately, but they met collectively on zoom.

"It was good we could meet virtually over zoom and talk about our run plans and what we were doing for the week," said Scheer, who added, "We are supporting the notion that just because we can't physically be together, we can still be emotionally support each other in our training and our running."

On Saturday, the woman started in waves to encourage social distancing, and on the course they stayed at least six feet from each other.

A ritual at the end of their half-marathon races, the women take a group photo.

"That picture makes me feel a little sad," said Lundberg Frane. "We are usually hugging, and here we are six feet apart."

The women were asked if they missed the group experience of a big race with lots of participants.

"For me, the event itself is a celebration of all the training you put before it," said Scheer. "That wasn't different. The difference is the energy you get from other people who weren't there."

"I think it is the group training that I miss," said Stacy Raymond.

Next month the women will hold another race of their own over the local trail system.

In 2021, they're hoping to physically journey to the West Coast and run that Washington halfmarathon that they virtually ran in 2020.

"That's our plan," said Lundberg Frane.


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