The University of Wisconsin-Madison campus community discovered spray-painted messages morning against transphobia and conservative commentator Matt Walsh near Memorial Union Monday morning. Walsh is slated to speak on campus Monday evening.
The vandalism occurred early Monday morning, according to UW-Madison spokesperson John Lucas. Most of the graffiti has since been removed.
Messages including “Matt Walsh = Nazi,” “Stop letting Nazi transphobes talk” and “Trans POC rights now” were scattered throughout Alumni Park and on walls surrounding Memorial Union. A Bucky statue near the Memorial Union Terrace was also vandalized.
The graffiti also called out UW-Madison for giving Walsh a platform. Walsh — a self-described “theocratic fascist,” — has been criticized in recent months for rhetoric some worry promotes hateful or violent attitudes towards transgender people.
University of Wisconsin Police Department spokesperson Marc Lovicott told the Daily Cardinal the incident is under investigation and that police are reviewing security cameras in the area.
Lucas said the university is aware of the graffiti and will clean all vandalized surfaces “as soon as possible.”
“The university is deeply committed to the right to free speech,” Lucas said in an email. “However, criminal damage to the university’s buildings and spaces-- for any reason or purpose-- is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The university will “take appropriate steps under applicable criminal statutes and campus policies” to hold the individuals responsible for the graffiti accountable, according to Lucas.
Matt Walsh is scheduled to give a speech on his documentary “What is a Woman” (2022) in the Great Hall at Memorial Union at 6:30 p.m. Monday night.
Members of the UW BIPOC Coalition and Madison Abortion and Reproductive Rights Coalition for Health plan to protest Walsh’s appearance outside Memorial Union at 4 p.m. Monday.
Editors’ note: This story was updated at 10:01 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, to add a statement from the University of Wisconsin Police Department spokesperson. This story was updated again at 11:49 a.m. to add a statement from UW-Madison spokesperson John Lucas. The story was also updated at 1:05 p.m. to add information about the removal of the messages and the protest set to occur outside of Memorial Union at 4 p.m. on Monday.
Tyler Katzenberger is the State News Editor at The Daily Cardinal. He has covered numerous protests and written state politics, healthcare, business and in-depth stories. Follow him on Twitter at @tk_kutz.
Drake White-Bergey is the photo editor of the Daily Cardinal. You can follow him on Instagram at @drakewb437 and on Twitter at @dwhite437.