Leadership from Forward Latino met with Mark Lutz, owner of the West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe, after community members spoke out with concerns over a social media post made by a representative of the company.
The comment was immediately removed and an apology was issued, but not before it created a firestorm of controversy. West Allis Mayor Dan Devine and First District Alderman Angelito Tenorio organized and participated in the meeting for how the business could repair its relationship with the community.
“We had an honest and substantive discussion, and shared the concerns of many in the Latino community,” said Darryl Morin, National President of Forward Latino. “We also discussed the Latino community’s economic contribution to our state and our nation, as well as, addressed myths regarding immigrants and more.”
Lutz was very forthright and again apologized for the post. He also agreed to work together to help make the dream of a college education a reality for a promising Hispanic student wishing to earn a degree in a STEM related field. As a result of the meeting, participants said there was a greater understanding and appreciation, and a genuine interest in moving forward together as “one community.”
“Our city and state face many challenges, challenges that are best addressed when we work together as one community. Our Latino population is important to our city and our state and the industries that are related to my business,” said Lutz. “I look forward to supporting collaborative efforts to the benefit of all and will continue to invest in and support the community and people my business serves.”
Alderman Tenorio said it was important to have conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the local community, especially pertaining immigrant neighbors.
“We can only thrive as a city if everyone rises up together, regardless of their background or where they come from. Our diversity makes us stronger, and I’m excited to continue this conversation and to do good work to make West Allis the best it can be for everyone,” said Alderman Tenorio.
Forward Latino, a non-partisan advocacy and service organization dedicated to assisting Latinos pursuing the American Dream, is in preliminary discussions with Mayor Devine and Alderman Tenorio on holding educational events in West Allis.