Hundreds of University of Wisconsin-Madison students and faculty walked out of their classrooms today at 11:30 a.m. to gather at Bascom Hill and protest against the anti-black racism that has plagued campus.
“I appreciate everybody being here today in solidarity,” said UW-Madison grad student Michael Davis to the crowd through a megaphone. “Let’s be specific here. It’s time for us to start naming the oppression. We’re talking about anti-black racism that King suffered.”
The walkout was held at 11:30 a.m. to correlate with the exact same time that King Shabazz was taken out of his classroom by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department and arrested in connection to 11 instances of graffiti on campus last week. Officers found Shabazz during class in the Humanities Building after saying they’d attempted to contact him for two weeks. Students said they’re upset the way the situation was handled and expressed concerns that recent incidents of racial bias on campus were not being handled properly.
“How many times do we have to do this?” Davis asked the crowd. “The university wants us to believe that, ‘Oh! This is weird. This is rare. What is Donald Trump doing to the university?’ Look at all of these eloquent “Forward” banners everywhere. We’re going backwards!”
Students at the UW-Madison have been asking for the resignation of officers who pulled Shabazz out of class. They also taped a list of demands on the statue of Abe Lincoln on Bascom Hill that included:
1. Drop charges against King.
2. Return all his items obtained during the investigation.
3. Allow King to graduate with his class in May.
4. UW administrators who allowed this arrest to take place resign including: Chancellor, Dean of Students, Chief of UW police, arresting officers.
5. Community control of UWPD. This means a professor, student, and faculty led board that has power to hire and fire police, and decide priorities, practices, and policies of police department.
Protesters marched down Bascom Hill and occupied College Library before marching down Park St., where they shut down the intersections at University Avenue and later at Johnson Street.
“This is not your typical Madison liberal get-together,” Davis said. “Let me be clear. It’s not only important that we mobilize in this space but that we organize. This does not stop here.”