By Shereen Siewert

City, county and school board officials are calling for unity and peace amid a series of protests that continue to sweep through the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died last month while in police custody.

The statement, distributed as a news release Friday by Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg, quoted the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saying “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The group is calling for an end to systemic injustices that have oppressed people of color, demanding equal and fair treatment in the nation’s justice system.

The full release reads:

“Along with many of you, we are deeply saddened by the tragic events that took place recently, resulting in the death of George Floyd.

We recognize that there is injustice. There is racism. There is inequality. But we don’t need to keep fueling that fire. It’s important that we unite to support and protect each other with a message of strength, peace, and resolve.

As elected officials, we support the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and will not tolerate violence of any kind.

Together, we call for an end to the systemic injustices that have oppressed and led to the loss of life of people of color. We demand equal and fair treatment in our justice system be afforded in policy and in practice and provide the same civil rights to all people. Though we live in a smaller community, we are not so insulated from what’s going on around us that we think we are immune from it.

We want to hear from you, we encourage public debate, education and we need to see progress. We will work to bring about policies that ensure that all members of this community feel valued and are safe.

As leaders and members of this community we hurt together, we will heal together, and we will move forward together.”

The letter is signed by Mayor Rosenberg, along with seven members of the Wausau City Council, 12 members of the Marathon County Board of Supervisors, and four members of the Wausau School Board including Board President Tricia Zunker, who signed as a justice for the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court. Zunker is also a candidate for U.S. Congressional Dist. 7, challenging U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) who was elected to the position in last month’s special election.

A protest is planned for downtown Wausau on Saturday. Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven issued a statement earlier this week reassuring business owners that his department expects a peaceful demonstration.

As a result of the crowd size, some downtown streets will be closed for about four hours beginning at 9 a.m.

The march begins at 10 a.m. on The 400 Block and ends at City Hall.

“We have spent much of the week preparing to support and assure the safety of the marchers and our downtown,” said Bliven, who attended a similar protest alongside demonstrators in May.”We have a good plan in place.”

See the full statement from local officials below.