UW Madison students deface Lincoln statue with list of demands
Hundreds of students participated in a mass walkout last week to protest the recent arrest of a classmate, demanding “community control” of the school’s police force and even defacing a statue of President Abraham Lincoln with a copy of their demands.
The student, an alleged vandal accused of spray painting dozens of buildings on campus and costing the university $4,000 in repairs, was arrested outside of his classroom last week on suspicion of the charges. Campus police had spent weeks attempting to contact the student, but all phone calls and even several home visits went unanswered, according to a police report.
Consequently, police were forced to locate the student in his classroom, apprehending him outside of the building to minimize the spectacle. Only after a long conversation was the student, Denzell McDonald, arrested on 11 counts of vandalism on campus.
“Fuck the police,” “White supremacy iz a dizeaze,” “Death to the pigz,” and “The devil iz a white man,” were just a few of the many messages McDonald allegedly painted.
Although the university admitted that the nature of McDonald’s arrest was unfortunate, his peers are now demanding the immediate termination of the officers who made the arrest. In addition, protesters are asking that the campus police department be turned over to the hands of the people.
A video posted to Facebook and obtained by Campus Reform shows hundreds of students walking out of their classes and marching through campus with a list of demands, which they later taped to the face of an Abraham Lincoln statue on campus.
“It’s time to start naming the oppression. We’re talking about anti-black racism that King suffered,” one student protester chanted at the walkout, referring to McDonald by his pen name “King Shabazz.”
Later, students issued their ultimatum to the administration, plastering a copy over Lincoln’s face for good measure.
“One of the most imperative aspects of shifting power is introducing a set of clear demands to the institution,” the protest leader declared. “We have those demands and we’re going to tape them to our beloved Lincoln.”
Another protester then proceeded to read off the list of demands, which included the complete dismissal of the investigation into McDonald’s involvement in the 11 instances of vandalism on campus, saying “his human rights were violated.”
Students also demanded that McDonald’s “items” be returned to him immediately, seemingly asking that the materials McDonald allegedly used to spray paint his campus be returned by the police department.
Students then demanded that McDonald’s arrest in no way prevent him from graduating on time in May, emphasizing the point with a shout of “Education not incarceration!”
Finally, protesters demanded that “all officers and administration involved” in McDonald’s arrest “resign,” and that all ““hiring, firing, training, accountability measures, and decision making over all personnel who are part of the UWPD” be made the responsibility of a community review board.
“Community control of the police!” they chanted.
The hundreds of students who walked out of their classrooms then marched through their campus, stopping in front of the library to chant their demands where students were quietly studying.
“We gon’ be alright, only if we fight!” they shouted.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank, however, called the demands unreasonable and impractical in a statement released Thursday night.
“Embedded in the student demands are requests for actions that I do not believe are reasonable, or even lawful, for me to take,” Blank wrote. “In fact, several of the demands seek to apply authority that the university does not have under state law or UW System policies and procedures.”
Local prosecutors have not yet charged McDonald, who was released last week on bail.
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