Man who made rape comment to protesters cited

Driver blocked downtown Port traffic as he told women he hoped they would be assaulted by black man

PORT WASHINGTON college students Natalie Kelm (left) and Izzi Wickus were among four young women who protested in downtown Port Washington Friday when a motorist confronted them, saying he hoped they would be raped by a black man. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

A 55-year-old Port Washington man has been issued two municipal citations after he told a group of four young women who were peacefully protesting in downtown Port for the Black Lives Matter movement that he hoped they would be raped by a black man.

The incident, which was taped by one of the protesters, went viral after one of the women posted the video on Facebook — something they said they never expected.

“We couldn’t believe it,” Izzi Wickus said. 

Port Washington Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said Donald Koller was cited for impeding traffic and obstructing an officer, adding the department has also forwarded its report to Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol to determine if a criminal charge of disorderly conduct would be warranted.

Gerol said Wednesday that his office had just received the report and would be reviewing it.

College students and Port High School alumni Wickus and her friend Natalie Kelm, along with two other friends, have participated in protests locally and in Milwaukee and said they decided on Friday to bring their signs to downtown Port.

“We wanted to bring the conversation to Port,” Kelm said. “A lot of people in Port don’t see the police brutality or don’t think it exists. They don’t see the racism or they think it’s not a real thing.”

Wickus added, “We thought, why not just hold up a sign in Port Washington? It would make more of an impact.”

The women, whose signs included the slogans “Black Lives Matter,” “Honk for Solidarity” and “Defund the Police and Not Education,” were joined by a couple other people when they started their protest at the corner of Franklin and Jackson streets Friday. After an hour or so, the others left and the young women moved to the corner of Franklin Street and Grand Avenue.

The women anticipated not everyone would agree with them, they said, but found a great deal of support.

“There were many more honks than flip offs,” Wickus said.

It was then that Koller, who was driving south on Franklin Street, stopped his car in traffic at the intersection. First, he read their signs aloud, Wickus said.

In the recording, which lasts more than four minutes, Koller can be heard telling the women, “You’re all fat and stupid,” adding “I hope you get raped by a black guy.” 

The women, who urged Koller to move, noting he was blocking traffic and cars were trying to get around him, told him his words were inappropriate, adding one of them was a minor.

“If we say defund the police, you cannot say I hope you get raped,” one of the women said, adding, “That’s inappropriate, please don’t say that to me...What is wrong with you?”

Koller answered, “I got freedom of speech... I can say whatever I want.”

“This is our freedom of speech,” the women responded.

Koller told the women he was going to call police. A man passing by responded to him and defended the women.

The women said they didn’t get the Good Samaritan’s  name, but his actions disheartened them, adding there were few other people on the sidewalk at the time.

Kelm said she decided to record the incident because she got the feeling something was going to happen. 

The recording came in handy because Koller called police about 7:30 p.m. Friday to report he was harassed by the women, saying they threatened him and used vulgarities, Hingiss said.

Officer Jerry Nye responded to the scene, but by then no one was there. A short time later, Hingiss said, the women stopped at the station to report what had happened.

The women said they were shocked by the confrontation. While they expected not everyone would agree with their stance, they never expected to be attacked in such a way, they said.

“I was flabbergasted,” Kelm said, adding Koller’s comment made her angry . 

“I literally wanted to say f*** you,” she said, “but I knew if I went off, it would discredit us and what we were there for.

“I get that there’s free speech. It might be legal to say, but wrong, wrong on so many levels.”

  “It was just so unexpected,” Wickus said. “I was shocked. I just said, ‘Wow, did he just say that to us?’ It was crazy. We all paused.

“I honestly felt safer protesting in Milwaukee on a road I’ve never been to before than I did in Port Washington at that point.”

Kelm said Koller’s niece called her over the weekend to apologize on behalf of the family and Koller, and she accepted the apology for the women.

The niece also told her the family had been receiving threats, something Kelm said isn’t right either.

“Do I want him to get threats, no,” she said. “I want him to face consequences. That stuff can’t be tolerated.”

Koller did not respond to a call seeking comment.

Kelm, a social studies major at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and Wickus, an elementary education major at Iowa State University, said the incident won’t stop them from continuing their efforts for justice and equality, adding they are working to organize a protest this weekend.

“This has given us an opportunity to speak out more,” Wickus said.

“We have a platform,” Kelm said. “Since we have the attention in Port Washington, I want to get the message out — black lives matter, and police brutality happens. All of the facts are there. We need to listen to them.”


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