Local pride leaders and politicians calling for awareness and action in wake of Copeland Park hate incident

Forty-year-old Travis Crawford of La Crosse is charged with three felonies for allegedly assaulting two transgender teenagers

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Forty-year-old Travis Crawford of La Crosse is charged with three felonies for allegedly assaulting two transgender teenagers in Copeland Park Tuesday night.

Here in Wisconsin, hate crimes address violence against people’s sexuality, but not their gender.

La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds is already condemning the alleged attack, and now more politicians and local pride leaders are calling for awareness, and action.

“I think it’s ridiculous that our hate crimes bill isn’t inclusive of the entire LGBT community,” said Will Van Roosenbeek, director of the UW-La Crosse Pride Center.

Travis Crawford 2


According to the criminal complaint, Crawford uttered gay slurs at a transgender boy and girl and accused them of having sex. The teens asked Crawford to leave them alone. Instead, Crawford responded by punching the boy in the face.

“What did disturb me was that it was young children, youth,” Van Roosenbeek said.

“The LGBTQ community lives in the threat of this type of violence all of the time,” said Andrew Ives, president of the board of the 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection.

La Crosse area politicians say more work can be done to address violence against transgender people.

“I think that we can definitely look at the law as it’s currently written,” said Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse. “And if we need to be more specific and tighten it up…that we can do that.”

“I will always be optimistic,” said State Sen. Brad Pfaff, D-Onalaska. “I do believe at the end of the day, that there’s more that unites us than divides us as a people.”

Tuesday’s incident isn’t the only one that’s happened against the LGBTQ community in La Crosse this year.

In March, a hate-filled message was written on an LGBTQ student’s door at Viterbo.

“It also makes us question how many other incidents are happening that aren’t being reported about or we’re not learning about as a community,” Ives said.

Local pride leaders are hoping the Copeland Park incident sparks more conversation that hate against these people is real.

“Homophobia and transphobia are at the root of this incident,” Ives said.

The criminal complaint did not list any witnesses to Tuesday night’s alleged attack.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, a 2019 FBI report shows that hate crimes based on sexuality represent the third most hate crimes in the U.S. behind race and religion. Hate crimes against gender have also risen to about three percent.

The criminal complaint can be found below.

Criminal Complaint – County_1 – Crawford, Travis D; 2021CF000554; Crawford, Travis D_2522918_1