The University of Wisconsin’s Teaching Assistants’ Association and the UW Black and Indigenous People of Color Coalition held a march on Friday calling for racial justice on campus and the dismantling of the UW Police Department.
In an Instagram post publicizing the march, the BIPOC Coalition criticized UW officials for their unwillingness to hold a public discussion with the coalition and other members of the UW community.
“When administration officials have been willing to listen, it’s only on their terms,” the post said. “They will not have a conversation in public with students, workers, or community members. The only meetings they want to have are private and behind closed doors — on their terms.”
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Protesters gathered at the Camp Randall arch at 4 p.m. Just before 5 p.m., the group marched to the UWPD building where they stopped briefly, before continuing onward to Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s personal residence.
Outside of Blank’s home, protestors chanted, “Quit your job!” and “Becky, can you hear us now?”
— Molly DeVore (@mollydevore1) October 9, 2020
UW BIPOC Coalition Leader Juliana Bennett spoke at the protest about UWPD’s place on campus.
“So my question here is, why do we have cops on campus?” Bennett said. “Why do we have a university police system? … in the situations that we need the police they aren’t there for us.”
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ASM Chair Matthew Mitnick spoke at the protest and said the vote of no confidence in part functioned as a step for ASM to move away from the UW administration.
“ASM has been an extension of the administration … and this year we’re trying to change that,” Mitnick said.
The Wisconsin Black Student Union’s Vice President Nzinga Acosta spoke at the protest, bringing up another one of the BIPOC Coalition’s demands — the removal of the Abraham Lincoln statue on Bascom hill.
The BIPOC Coalition and other student groups have asked for the removal of the statue because of Lincoln’s execution of 38 Dakota Men and the statues orgins of being donated from a known racist Richard Lloyd Jones.
“What [the Lincoln statue] represents is anti-Indigenous acts, anti-Indigenous mentalities, and anti-Black mentalities,” Acosta said. “That statue is a symbol of hatred.”
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The protest ended at Blank’s house around 7 p.m. with some protestors continuing on marching later on into the night.