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Letters to the editor: Global health security; Vandalism of Rainbow Flags and Help from the FBI

Global health security


It troubles me deeply that an important story received scant media attention last week. On May 8, Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, head of U.S. global health security, left the White House's National Security Council. His office was precipitously eliminated in a reorganization of the National Security Council under its newly appointed adviser, John Bolton. Tom Bossert, a champion of investment in global health security, also left his position of White House homeland security adviser a day after Bolton began.

Ziemer is highly regarded internationally for, among other efforts, his work on the Malaria Initiative, helping to save six million lives.

Coming together, these changes create the conditions for world-wide endangerment of monumental proportions. The blatant disregard for global health security puts us all at risk. At a time when the potential for pandemics to spread like wildfire around the globe, now no one is in charge.

The day before Ziemer's departure the Democratic Republic of Congo announced a new Ebola outbreak there.

Phyllis Goldin, M.D.

River Falls

Vandalism of Rainbow Flags and Help from the FBI


Hudson, River Falls, Prescott, New Richmond, and Hammond have had police reports filed about LGBTQ rainbow flags that have been stolen and/or desecrated. Just in the last few years there has been 20 such police reports filed in our area alone. All have been categorized as general vandalism, not as a hate crime. The FBI defines a hate crime as follows:

"A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity." (

The targeted desecration of LGBTQ flags is clearly a hate crime by FBI standards. One of the functions of the FBI is to assist local police with tracking of larger patterns. And, one of the ways each of us can help fight hate crimes is by reporting a rainbow flag vandalism to local police and directly to the FBI.

I have contacted the FBI and discovered how simple it is to file a report. Wisconsin's FBI field division is located in the Milwaukee area, but there's a FBI resident agency in Eau Claire that oversees St. Croix County. When an individual wants to report a hate crime motivated incident, they call 715-835-3761. Callers will be linked to a filing agent, who will ask a series questions, lasting for about 10 minutes. During my phone conversation, I was told that past victims should report on vandalized rainbow flags, even if the incident occurred a while back. The FBI needs information from over a span of time to identify an overall pattern. It is also important that the reports be substantiated by the victim directly to file a firsthand account of the offense.

On March 31 of this year, the Hudson Police filed an assault hate crime that occurred on Second Street against a gay man. Without a pattern of other LGBTQ hate crime incidents, this assault looks like an isolated occurrence. The FBI's database has the ability to track hate crime activity and statistically connect the dots at large. All of us need to be sure that the Eau Claire satellite division of the FBI is able to track hate crime activity for Hudson and its surrounding communities together. Hate crime vandalism against the LGBTQ community is on the rise in St. Croix County, and only five months into 2018 the total number is the already same as the police reports filed for rainbow flag incidences in all of 2017.

Thank you to all who fly the rainbow flag in support of LGBTQ friends. Your courage and conviction demonstrate the true heart of our community. We need to protect each other and help our law enforcement officials with accurate tracking, alongside our solidarity of shared concerns.

Tony Bol