Campus News

UWPD enters classroom, arrests UW-Madison student for vandalism

A UW-Madison student was arrested Thursday in connection to 11 incidents of graffiti that highlighted racism on campus. 

Image By: Courtesy of UW-Madison Police Department

The UW-Madison Police Department arrested a UW-Madison student in connection to 11 counts of graffiti Thursday after officers asked him to leave a university classroom, according to UWPD Public Information Officer Marc Lovicott.

Lovicott said that charges were related to the recent instances of graffiti on campus buildings on Library Mall. The graffiti called America the “home of the slaves” and said “white supremacy is a disease.” The suspect, Denzel J. McDonald, signed the messages from God.

The total cost to clean and repair the damage caused by the graffiti was more than $4,000.

The suspect also allegedly threatened to kill a bystander who was attempting to intervene and call the police, according to a UWPD incident report.

Lovicott said UWPD had been investigating the string of graffiti for six months, and has been attempting to contact McDonald for the previous two weeks. Graffiti appeared on two more campus buildings Wednesday, so UWPD officers found McDonald in a classroom.

He was eventually arrested outside of the building and then booked in Dane County Jail. 

UW-Madison sophomore Mara Benowitz was in the classroom this morning, and she said she thought it was unnecessary that the officers entered and disrupted the classroom.

"I think it's ridiculous that they would disrupt a class and arrest him in front of everyone when the classroom is supposed to be a place that students feel safe," Benowitz said.  

A crowdsourced fundraising effort titled “Reparations for King Shabazz”—which is another name the suspect goes by—began quickly after the arrest. In roughly two hours, 26 people contributed a total of more than $1,100.

UPDATE April 14, 8:02 p.m.: This story has been updated to include further information and a comment from a UW-Madison student. 

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