Officials are more interested in protecting the symbols of UW rather than the students who are fighting for social change, and apparently their lives.
The arrest of a Black student in class has prompted furor from some 700 professors and students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Badger Herald reports.
Denzel McDonald was arrested on Thursday by campus police for allegedly spray-painting politically-charged graffiti on several buildings all over the campus for half a year.
According to The Badger Herald, McDonald stands accused of spray-painting at least 11 messages across campus, including a two-tone message in red, which read: “RACIZM [sic] IN THE AIR,” “DON’T BREATHE,” followed by a signature line in black “– GOD.”
According to police, McDonald is also responsible for other graffitied statements, which include “THE DEVIL IZ [sic] A WHITE MAN — GOD,” “WHITE SUPREMACY IZ [sic] A DISEASE” — GOD,” and probably the main reason behind his arrest a “FUCK THE POLICE” message on the buildings.
The professors and students were infuriated partly because the police interrupted an Afro-American studies class to arrest McDonald. The class, taught by Johanna Almiron, appears to be titled “Towards the Black Fantastic: Afro-futurism and Black Visual Culture.”
On Friday campus advocates, Almiron, and other professors, who are enraged at McDonald’s arrest, penned and published a letter complaining about racism and urging school officials to be lenient with the 21-year old, who is expected to graduate this May.
“On April 14th during UW Madison Professor, Dr. Johanna F. Almiron’s Afro-American Studies Class, Black Visual Culture, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department ambushed the classroom, and removed a young black male student from the class,” the letter reads.
“We ask that regardless of the outcome of the charges against him that the student be given immunity from expulsion for his actions and be allowed to graduate on time this May,” their letter declares.
The letter also quoted Dr. Almiron, saying school officials are “more interested in protecting the symbols of UW as a progressive institution like their buildings and Bucky rather than the students, who are actually fighting for social change, and apparently their lives.”
Communications professor Karma Chávez expressed her displeasure at the conduct of the officers, who “did not recognize Dr. Almiron’s authority in the classroom, nor did they even acknowledge her as the professor when she tried to intervene.”
Wisconsin-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank also released a statement beseeching all parties to remain calm and promising a review of campus policing, according to Inside Higher Ed.
“I know there is a lot of frustration on campus about the climate for students of color,” Blank wrote. “I share that frustration.”
Despite these protests, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department has shown no interest in granting clemency to the young man, whose actions were clearly motivated by the vices of our racially charged society.
McDonald, who appears in court on Thursday, is charged with 11 counts of vandalism and one count of disorderly conduct.
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