Man, 51, arrested for hate crime in Wausau
Aaron Nielsen, 51, is in jail accused of a hate crime in Wausau. According to a post on the Wausau Police Department's Facebook page, it stems from a fight at a gas station June 1 on Wausau's west side.
"Racism exists here in our community," said Wausau Chief of Police Ben Bliven. "Sitting idly by isn't gonna be OK anymore in our community. We have to do better than just accepting racism exists. We're gonna have to do more."
Officers determined Nielsen used a racial slur toward a person of color. Initially, officers issued a summons for battery and because of COVID-19 protocols, most misdemeanor offenses result in a summons to court rather than an arrest.
However, after reviewing the case, the police department consulted with the Marathon County attorney and determined the incident qualifies as a hate crime, which is a felony.
Nielsen is in jail and is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.
The post goes on to say, "Racism exists here. It flourishes when it goes unaddressed. Please join us in speaking out against racism. Please join us in listening and learning from our neighbors who are persons of color. Seek to understand their perspective which is formed from unique experiences. While we aren’t perfect, we will continue to strive for a better quality of life for everyone that lives here."