Hundreds of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison launched a protest action Thursday, blocking major streets in order to show support for a student who allegedly called for killing police officers.
The protests were sparked by the recent arrest of Denzel McDonald, who is accused of spraying graffiti with inflammatory messages around campus under the moniker “God.” McDonald faces numerous vandalism charges (his messages cost the school over $4,000 to fix) as well as one disorderly conduct charge for allegedly threatening to kill a bystander who caught him in the act.
Activists on campus have been outraged over the arrest, and claim McDonald did nothing wrong by spray-painting messages like “Death to the pigz [police]” and “The devil iz a white man.” They are also upset because McDonald was arrested by campus police in the middle of class.
And so, to make their point, protesters gathered in UW’s main library, where they began a demonstration using chants coordinated via megaphone. The rally began at 11:30, to coincide with the exact time that McDonald was arrested.
In a video, a protesting faculty member apparently denounced The Daily Caller over a recent article criticizing a teaching assistant for canceling class in response to McDonald’s arrest.
— Rachael Lallensack (@rlallensack) April 21, 2016
According to The Badger Herald, the students issued a list of demands that includes dropping all charges against McDonald and having everybody involved with his arrest lose their jobs, from the officers involved all the way up to Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
Sergio González, a leader of UW’s Teaching Assistant Association, said the arrest of McDonald showed racism on the part of campus police, demonstrating that they care more about punishing black men than about investigating and punishing numerous hate crimes that have allegedly occurred on campus.
“The event last week, which targeted a young black male, represented the hypocrisy of the administration, showing what crimes they will investigate, and what crimes they won’t,” González said.
After the protest in the library, activists carrying banners and signs spilled out into streets around campus. A video uploaded to Twitter shows students forming a human chain in order to block cars and clear the way for marching protesters who chant slogans such as “Fuck white supremacy!”
— Alice Vagun (@a_vagoon) April 21, 2016
Chancellor Blank released a statement Thursday evening responding to some of the student demands, saying that some of them were inadvisable or outright illegal for her to meet. The UW police department has already apologized for arresting McDonald in a classroom, but has firmly said that no officers will be fired over the matter.
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