One week after a University of Wisconsin student attempted to start an “alt-right” group on campus, students and community members alike marched to protest the movement and fight white supremacy.
In a mass demonstration entitled “Take Back our Campus: Resist White Supremacy,” around 70 protesters gathered Tuesday to march from Library Mall to Bascom Hall to voice their list of demands. Before ending their march, the group made its way to the Student Activity Center to speak to UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who was attending a shared governance meeting.
The event began at Library Mall and featured speakers from a range of 30 different groups who addressed the protesters on issues related to fighting white supremacy. Laura Minero, a UW graduate student and member of DREAMers of UW-Madison, began the protest by encouraging the crowd to come together as one.
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Minero said people believe issues like xenophobia and homophobia are new, but in reality, they are not.
“It’s time that people get woke, and that’s why we’re all here.” Minero said. “And we’re here to bring wokeness to this campus and not allow groups like this ‘alt-right’ group that’s trying to infiltrate our campus.”
Ali Brooks, a member of Groundworks, an anti-racism group in Madison, discussed racial justice at the protest. She said white supremacy on campus is nothing new and the rise of President Donald Trump has revealed this.
People should use their privilege and power to do work that may be dangerous for people of color, she added.
“White silence is violence,” Brooks said.
The speaking portion ended with a discussion led by Acheh Fonkem, a UW student with a hearing disability, on the topics of white supremacy and immigration.
Protesters then marched to Bascom Hall chanting, “No justice, no peace,” and “This is our university, fuck white supremacy.”
Tina Treviño-Murphy, a member of the Teaching Assistants Association, discussed social change at Bascom Hall. She said individuals by themselves are not strong enough to make major changes. People must come together for a common cause, she added, to be stronger and create change.
Protesters continued by marching to the SAC to question Blank, who was in a shared governance meeting, about her plans to deal with the “alt-right.”
One attendee from the meeting asked Blank on how the community should respond when approached with subtle forms of racism, to which the protesters demanded Blank condemn all forms of racism, including hate speech.
Though the protesters appearance was unscheduled, Blank was able to address some of their concerns.
One organizer of the demonstration, Ricardo de la Cruz II, called the march successful because they had a list of demands. He said he hopes the event spurs political change on campus.
Part of the political change they hope to achieve, he said, is to have the administration make changes.
“You have to fight for something,” de la Cruz II said. “Especially since there’s so many identities on this campus, why wouldn’t you, especially if you’re a person of color, why wouldn’t you fight for your own identity especially when it’s being oppressed?”