UW System President praises UW-Madison for taking action: Updates (2024)

Pro-Palestinian rallies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and UW-Madison continued Wednesday, as hundreds of people, mostly students, called for cutting university ties to Israel and for peace in Gaza.

The standoff between student protesters and college administrators over tents mirrors a national conflict that is growing increasingly confrontational.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators have vowed to remain for as long as it takes until schools meet their demands. University leaders are balancing students’ right to protest with a desire to minimize disruptions to their campuses and enforce a state rule banning encampments.

Follow our live coverage on the third day of protests at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee. See our coverage from the first two days of protests.

3 p.m.: Trump tells administrators to 'take back our campuses'

Early in his speech in Waukesha, former President Donald Trump called out protests on college campuses and praised the police response to protests at Columbia University.

"To every college president, I say: Remove the encampments immediately, vanquish the radicals and take back our campuses for all of the normal students who want a safe place from which to learn," Trump said.

2:18 p.m.: UW System President praises UW-Madison for taking action

UW System President Jay Rothman commended UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin for ordering police to remove illegal tents from Library Mall.

Protesters pitched new tents within an hour of police moving out. Rothman said campuses will continue supporting legal protests and addressing illegal activities.

"This will be a process and ultimately we will see where that takes us," he said. "I'm not going to speculate about what the future may bring in terms of further action."

At UW-Milwaukee, the tents stand tall. There's been limited police presence since the encampment began Monday.

"Each campus is unique and it will be dealt with in a unique manner," Rothman said when asked if he supports police intervention at UWM. "It's not a one-size-fits-all in terms of how we approach this."

Rothman agreed with Gov. Tony Evers, who on Tuesday said eventually the encampments had to come down.

12:45 p.m.: UW-Madison Police arrested 34 protesters, most not cited

UW-Madison Police reported arresting a total of 34 people during Wednesday morning’s standoff between protesters and officers, the majority of whom were released without a citation.

Of those arrested, four people were booked into the Dane County Jail on the following charges:

  • Attempted disarming a police officer, attempted escape and two counts of resisting arrest
  • Battery to a police officer
  • Battery to a police officer and resisting arrest
  • Battery to a police officer

12:21 p.m.: UW-Madison chancellor says protests may continue, but encampment posed safety risk

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin said she authorized the police intervention Wednesday because the encampment posed an increasing safety risk to the campus community.

The clash came after repeated warnings about camping not being allowed on campus grounds.

Protesters were allowed to continue demonstrating by moving away from the tents, and many took that approach, Mnookin said. But about 30 protesters were cited, and several others arrested for resisting or interfering with the tent removal.

Mnookin said a number of people unaffiliated with UW-Madison came to the encampment and engaged in confrontational behavior.

"Such an increased risk to the safety of our community, which would be expected to grow over time was a significant contributing factor to today’s action to address the illegal encampment," Mnookin wrote in a letter to students, staff and faculty.

There was also a handful of "blatantly antisemitic actions" at the encampment, including one person making the "Heil, Hitler!" salute. But Mnookin said UW-Madison had no evidence that any campus community members engaged in the activity.

The role of campus leadership is not to take sides in international debates, Mnookin said, adding that protesters are free to resume peaceful protest.

"But such rights are not unlimited," she wrote. "The boundaries that our laws and code of conduct place on speech are meant to ensure that all have access to our common spaces and that dialogue takes place without intimidation or exclusion."

11:15 a.m.: Student serving on Madison Common Council 'appalled' by police

MGR Govindarajan, a UW-Madison senior who represents the campus district on the Madison Common Council, said he was "appalled" by the police crackdown on protesters.

He said safety was an afterthought for police and the intervention was unnecessary.

"The chilling effect from today’s actions will leave a stain on UW’s legacy," Govindarajan said in a statement.

11 a.m.: UW-Madison Police say eight officers injured

Four police officers were injured during the conflict, UW-Madison spokesperson Marc Lovicott said. Dane County Sheriff's Office had three deputies injured, all of which were directly related to the protesters resisting police.

A State Patrol trooper sustained injuries when a protester struck their head with a skateboard, Lovicott said.

10:50 a.m.: Rep Clancy says Mone has not given any notice of police action

Rep. Ryan Clancy, D-Milwaukee, whose district includes the campus, told the Journal Sentinel he had not received any notice as of 10 a.m. that UWM Chancellor Mark Mone would disperse law enforcement on the encampment. He also said he hopes UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin reverses course on arrests.

Mone told Clancy and other legislators Tuesday that he would give them advance notice if he decides to call the police to UWM’s encampment. Clancy said the chancellor was not specific on how much advanced notice he would give. If alerted, Clancy's office would alert the community “by any means that we can," Clancy said.

"The encampments should be left up while the negotiations continue between the students and the administration,” he said.

10:30 a.m.: UW-Madison protesters start pitching new tents

Protesters set up two tents on Library Mall within hours of police removing them, defying again the state rule banning camping on campus property.By 10:45, 11 tents had been set up.

The group will soon start a meditation session. About 150 people are on the mall.

10:25 a.m.: UWM protesters say Madison arrests won't stop their protest

UWM student protesters said they were disappointed to see police make arrests and take down tents at UW-Madison.

Samia Saeed, social media chair for Students for a Democratic Society, said she received an email Wednesday morning from Adam Jussel, UWM dean of students. She said it read:

“Madison move to remove the tents this a.m. UWM is not doing that at this time.”

Saeed said protesters hoped the barricades that encircled parts of the encampment would protect them if police moved in. The barricades consist mainly of folding tables turned on their sides and scrap wood.

She estimated about 100 people were regularly sleeping in the roughly three dozen tents overnight.

“We’re still passionate about our cause. We are still here for the students in Palestine,” she said.

Saturn, a freshman student studying classics who declined to provide her last name, was reading “The Myth of Sisyphus” on a blanket in the encampment. She said the environment felt “very safe.”

“I don’t think it’s just for people to get hurt for protesting,” she said, responding to the arrests in Madison.

“I suppose it could happen anywhere. But I’m not precisely concerned” the same chaos would happen in Milwaukee, she said.

Anna Mansson McGinty, a professor of geography and women’s and gender studies, stopped by the encampment at UWM Wednesday morning to check on students.

In contrast to the forceful arrests that occurred at UW-Madison, the atmosphere in Milwaukee was quiet, with a handful of people reading, chatting and milling around.

Mansson McGinty said the last few days have been peaceful, with a lot of outside community support.

“They’re embodying their right of free speech and assembly. They have the right to politically dissent,” she said.

She said the detention of faculty at UW-Madison Wednesday morning was “absurd.”

“They’re there to support the students who are here in full right of free speech, and protesting what is a horrific war,” she said.

10:10 a.m.: At least two professors detained in UW-Madison protests

Police detained at least two professors during the clash Wednesday.

Police pinned UW-Madison Professor Samer Alatout to the ground and eventually gave him a citation. After being released, Alatout spoke to reporters with dried blood on his head.

UW System President praises UW-Madison for taking action: Updates (1)

Alatout said police specifically targeted him as a Palestinian professor supportive of the protests.

"They were screaming 'Him! Him!' but I was locking hands with other people," Alatout told the Journal Sentinel. "And they charged towards me several times, knocked me down at least three times, hit me with different things."

He said he arrived Wednesday morning to protect students after hearing police planned to remove the encampment.

Police also detained UW-Madison Professor Sami Schalk. The Daily Cardinal shared photos of Schalk in zip-tie cuffs being escorted away by officers.

Police were more aggressive than necessary, protester Dahlia Saba said.

"They came in when people were sleeping in tents on a lawn and then they started assaulting people," she told the Journal Sentinel. "They started beating people. They started pushing (and) shoving people. This is, you know, intended to escalate the situation, intended to threaten and intimidate students and community members with violence and I do not stand for that."

9:45 a.m.: At least a dozen protesters arrested at UW-Madison

UW-Madison police arrested at least a dozen people Wednesday morning, police spokesperson Marc Lovicott said.

"Things got a little tense this morning and we hoped that it would have been a little more peaceful than it became," he told reporters. "But we came here to ensure Chapter 18, the tenting policy, was enforced and that's what happened this morning. And we are grateful that our protesters are still here and they are exercising their First Amendment right."

Asked why police moved in Wednesday, two days after tents first went up, Lovicott declined to give specifics.

"I can tell you that we finally reached a point where a decision was made that Chapter 18 had to be enforced and that's what we did," he said.

Lovicott did not have the exact number of arrests available. He said he did not have any information on injuries or punishments. He also said he didn't know if any professors were arrested.

"As our teams pushed forward to try and secure that camping equipment, protesters pushed back, Lovicott said. "Some turned violent and it resulted in several arrests."

City of Madison Police, State Patrol and Dane County Sheriff's Office assisted UW-Madison police. Lovicott declined to say how many officers were involved.

9:40 a.m.: UW-Milwaukee protesters 'disappointed' by school's response to demands

UW-Milwaukee protesters, who have vowed not to move from an encampment on campus until their demands are met, said they are unsatisfied with the school’s response.

They replied to UWM’s statement – which pushed back on their demands – and said they were “disappointed by the university’s inaction.”

The protesters’ demands include disclosing all financial assets and divesting “accordingly,” cutting ties with weapons manufacturers and committing to no future deals with organizations that profit from “the occupation of Palestine.” The school has said it does not have investments in weapons manufacturers and its foundation can’t divest from specific companies in its mutual fund investments.

“The UWM administration should not want or expect us to remain silent or passive in the face of those who promote and support such a regime,” the protesters said, referring to Israel. “We are certain that the UWM administration would not be trying to appease Nazi, KKK or other such groups. … Why does the UWM administration continue to try and appease those who blatantly support the regime that is engaging in such crimes?”

It also called UWM’s call for a ceasefire and to release hostages “meek.” The student protesters said they were reiterating their demands to UWM.

The encampment contains about three dozen tents. It was quiet Wednesday morning. A teach-in coinciding with former President Donald Trump’s visit to Waukesha was planned for the afternoon, and a Palestinian drumming performance was set for early evening.

9:20 a.m.: Protesters express outrage at police intervention in Madison

"SHAME ON UW MADISON," the UW-Madison chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine posted on Instagram.

The Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine wrote on the same platform: "@UWChancellor does not care about the safety of the students! Unleashing dozens of violent police officers on a peaceful protest. We need everyone out to show support!!"

9:10 a.m.: Police and many protesters leave Library Mall

Police have left Library Mall, leaving with a truck full of tents that protesters tried chasing down.

One tent with a hefty group of people surrounding it remained on the mall, but many protesters have also left.

8:35 a.m.: Just two tents remain on Library Mall in Madison

UW-Madison protesters have linked arms around the final two tents. Police have removed the rest and put them into a trailer.

Tent by tent, police are taking down the encampment that popped up 48 hours ago. Officers continue to escort protesters off the scene.

In preparation for arrest, protesters scribbled bail numbers, the phone number they will use to make their one call, on their arms in Sharpie marker.

A line of officers with riot shields continues to stand by.

Students uninvolved in the protest are making their way to classes and expressing shock and surprise by the scene.

8:25 a.m.: No sign of police activity at UWM this morning

UW-Milwaukee’s encampment of about three dozen tents was quiet Wednesday morning. A handful of people walked in and out of the loose perimeter made of rope, folding tables and pieces of scrap wood, and only one police car was parked across the street, as it was on Tuesday.

Kayla Patterson, a senior studying art and Spanish, said the student demonstrators had no indication police would move to take down their encampment.

She said the news that police had taken down tents at UW-Madison was “a little bit of a scare,” but they were confident they could handle what came to them.

“We’ve got good communications going around,” she said. “Now it’s just a matter of having confidence in the security measures that we have in place.”

Patterson declined to say what those security measures were, aside from the team of people with walkie-talkies and yellow vests that patrol the perimeter 24-7.

“We’ve just got to stay vigilant and keep doing what we’re doing,” she said.

8:13 a.m.: Arrests begin at UW-Madison

Police are arresting protesters and escorting them off of Library Mall. At least one professor was seen pinned to the ground.

8:10 a.m.: Police, protesters clash in Madison

Police have broken through the chain of protesters surrounding the UW-Madison encampment.

Police are shoving protesters to the ground and hitting people in heads with their shields. Riot batons are out. Punches are being thrown.

A crowd of between 200 to 300 people are on Library Mall.

8 a.m.: 'This is the final warning'

Between 50 and 100 officers are on the scene of Library Mall at UW-Madison, according to a Journal Sentinel reporter on the scene.

Officers played audio from a loudspeaker that says "This is the final warning." Police have moved their riot shields to cover their faces.

Protesters have linked arms around the tent encampment. Most are wearing masks and goggles, preparing for the possibility of tear gas.

UW-Madison Police, State Police and Dane County Sheriff's Office were on the scene.

7:45 a.m.: All quiet at UWM

No police were seen at the UW-Milwaukee encampment early Wednesday morning, a stark contrast to the scene in Madison where police moved in to remove the tents.

Student protesters have said they won't leave until their demands are met by the university.

7:30 a.m.: Police in riot gear move in on protesters at UW-Madison

Police in riot gear swarmed an encampment set up by pro-Palestinian protesters on Library Mall Wednesday morning.

Video posted by Spectrum TV and Daily Cardinal reporters showed the officers' arrival. One reporter tweeted police gave a 10-minute warning for protesters to pack up and leave around 7 a.m.

Officers de-assembled tents while protesters chanted "Hold your ground. MPD, back down! Move, cops, get out the way!"

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, tweeted: "Good move. Thank you@uwchancellor for doing the right thing by enforcing campus policies and standing up to the unruly mob."

An email to UW-Madison police was not immediately returned.

Pro-Palestinian protesters pitched tents Monday morning. The demonstration had been largely peaceful with police taking a hands-off approach up to this point.

UW System President praises UW-Madison for taking action: Updates (2024)

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