Greenfield mayor cancels Pride event: 'Divisive political undertones'

A gay lawmaker, back to work after being attacked, is criticizing Greenfield's mayor for canceling a Pride event. 

The Greenfield Health Department originally shared a Facebook event listing and image inviting people to celebrate Pride this upcoming Sunday at the farmers' market at Konkel Park.

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Greenfield mayor cancels Pride event:

Then, Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke canceled it.

FOX6 News requested an interview with Neitzke, but he responded he did not have time. Instead, he shared a statement:

"I agreed with staff that some of the tone and tenor that was out there could adversely impact the Farmers Market and its mission as a great destination. Things like 'pride' and 'rainbows' have taken on deep, divisive political overtones—sometimes that turns to physical altercations—the recent County Supervisor incident comes to mind, though I don't know the specifics about that. Ultimately, people go to the Farmers Markets to buy local products and support local vendors. It shouldn't be a place where our visitors are confronted by those who have strong political beliefs, and those same visitors, even in the remotest way, shouldn't have to be worried about exposure to something that jeopardizes their safety."

The supervisor mentioned in the statement criticized the mayor's words and action.

"I don't know why the mayor used violence against me as justification for that," Milwaukee County Supervisor Peter Burgelis said of the even cancelation. "I don't understand how having that kind of event at the farmers' market could be even mildly construed as political. My sexuality, my sexual orientation is not political."

Peter Burgelis

Wauwatosa police say on June 12 someone inside Mayfair Mall hit Burgelis in the face. Burgelis accused that person of using a gay slur. 

Burgelis said the person of interest in this case was booked and processed, but charges have not been filed. Wauwatosa police confirmed the case was presented to prosecutors for their consideration of whether to bring charges.

The attack sent Burgelis to surgery and led to his jaw being wired shut, but he has since been able to return to work on the county board.

"I'm ok. It's going to be a process," said Burgelis. "It's going to take some time to heal, but I'll heal."

The mayor and the county supervisor talked. Burgelis unsuccessfully requested Neitzke reinstate the event.

"It's clearly his call," said Burgelis. "He's the mayor, but I wanted to make sure he knew the impacts of canceling something like that. It is an insult, a slap in the face to the LGBTQ community."

Konkel Park

FOX6 News acquired e-mails between the mayor and supervisor. In one, the mayor wrote:

"...the inclusion of the report of violence toward a County Supervisor because of their sexual orientation was intended only as a point of recent reference…In any event, I again reiterate my apologies for the reference. If my decision and your decisions result in a celebratory, safe Farmers Market for everybody in every community, then it is a success. That's what it should be."

"As I stated to you, I think numerous times, my primary concern is always the safety of citizens and guests to our City and the events that it holds. That’s my job, and I take it seriously," the mayor wrote. "I try desperately not to engage in politics."

The supervisor plans to go to the farmers' market despite the official city celebration being canceled. In addition, some activists also said they plan to be there in larger numbers than usual.

"There’s probably going to be a lot more rainbows at that farmer’s market now, because of making this an issue, than there otherwise would have been," Burgelis told FOX6.

In an e-mail, the mayor told the supervisor, "I think it is absolutely wonderful that the LGBTQ community intends to attend our Market in force on Sunday to show their colors and Pride!  Our hours are 10-2, and I think you’ll find some great strawberries. It’s an honor to have your presence."