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Monday, June 24, 2024
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A Pro-Palestine protester speaks in front of a Pro-Palestine crowd at Bascom Hall on May 6, 2024 in Madison, Wis.

Pro-Palestine protesters arrested after interrupting Board of Regents meeting

Pro-Palestine protesters calling for the University of Wisconsin System to divest from Israel interrupted a Thursday Board of Regents meeting.

Roughly seven pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested Thursday morning after interrupting a University of Wisconsin Board of Regents meeting to demand the UW System disclose and divest from Israel. 

Shortly after the Regents Business and Finance Committee began their 10:30 a.m. meeting, held in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s student union, about a dozen protestors stood up waving signs and chanting against the “colonial apartheid regime of Israel,” according to videos posted by protesters. 

“Over 40,000 people have been killed by weapons supplied by the U.S., bought by U.S. dollars,” a protester chanted

“Not another nickel! Not another dime! No more money for Israel's crime,” she added as she was removed by police.

Officers arrested and cited seven people with disorderly conduct, UW-Milwaukee spokesperson Angelica Duria told The Daily Cardinal. Non-students were banned from the student union for the remainder of June.

"UWM respects and supports people’s right to free speech and to engage in peaceful demonstrations," Duria said. "However, attendees were made aware that disruptions risked violating state law and could result in arrests."

Duria said the Dean of Students Office and Student Union staff asked the individuals to allow the meeting to continue without further interruptions, but these requests were ignored. 

Duria didn’t answer whether the protesters were students or whether they had communicated any specific demands.

The protest was led by the UWM Popular University for Palestine, which spearheaded previous protests, including the encampments on UW-Milwaukee’s campus. Thursdays protest was aimed at “putting student voices on the agenda and mov[ing] those in power to address the UW System’s complicity in genocide,” the group said in a Thursday Instagram post.

“In countless actions and meetings with administration across campuses, students have been told to target efforts elsewhere in UW Systems,” UWM Popular University for Palestine said. “We in the student movement find it imperative to take the struggle directly to the top where we cannot be moved.”

Thursday’s protest in the UW-Milwaukee student union was only a few hundred meters away from the site where pro-Palestine protesters established a two-week long encampment last month. UW-Milwaukee administration reached a deal in May with the protesters to remove their encampment with the promise that UW-Milwaukee’s foundation will discuss divestment with them. 

Kayla Patterson, a UW-Milwaukee protester, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday, the foundation yielded few answers and gave protesters the “runaround” in scheduling a second meeting.

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"Seeing that lack of willing to work in good faith, we decided to take our efforts a little bit higher, keep up the pressure," Patterson said.

The entire Board of Regents will meet in the same UW-Milwaukee student union room on June 7.

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Gavin Escott

Gavin Escott is the campus news editor for the Daily Cardinal. He has covered protests, breaking news and written in-depth on Wisconsin politics and higher education. He is the former producer of the Cardinal Call podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @gav_escott.

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