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Milwaukee SDS demands: ‘Drop all charges from March 4 protest’

By staff

"Make the Rich Pay!"

Fight Back New Service is circulating the following statement from the Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society.

SDS Condemns Repression of Education Rights Rally

Drop All Charges Against the Milwaukee 16!

Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is proud of the 250 students and workers who stood up for the March 4th National Day of Action to Defend Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).

The university administration is intimidated by the UWM Education Rights Campaign, an alliance that Milwaukee SDS helped create of over 20 organizations that are demanding to lower high-level administrative salaries, democratize the school, and establish just policies for workers and students.

Milwaukee SDS condemns the police who used violence and arrests to silence the protest. Furthermore, Milwaukee SDS condemns the university administration for responding to our just demands by defending this repression. “We condemn the university administration for silencing our message by portraying student protestors as violent,” said SDS Milwaukee member Jacob Flom.

Students and Workers Denied Access to Chapman Hall

The demonstration peacefully marched to the Chancellor's office to deliver petitions and make a statement that students and workers will fight cuts to education. Instead of acknowledging the protest, the Chancellor and university administration locked their office doors and called the police, watching from the windows of Chapman Hall as students were maced and beat up by campus police.

The media did not cover the hundreds of students who were blocked out of a public building by UWM Police Chief Michael Marzion, who taunted protesters by saying it was his personal decision to do so. Chief Marzion, who can be seen in video footage kicking and shoving protesters, allowed police forces to use violence and mace on students and workers.

Administration Ignores Demands of Students and Workers

Chancellor Santiago still has not addressed the demands of the Education Rights Campaign. Instead he has chosen to support the police’s use of mace against non-violent protesters and the arrests of innocent students and bystanders.

Rachel Matteson, another SDS member states, “He has attempted to delegitimize the campaign by circulating lies about the conduct of the protest that he did not even attend, another refusal to hear student voices. He continues to criminalize students in the media and by university e-mail.”

This only furthers students’ and workers’ frustration with a university administration that sits on six-figure salaries, caters to wealthy investors, and continues to ignore those who are struggling for basic rights in a time of economic crisis and cut backs to education. In addition, the 15 people charged for demonstrating on March 4th face a total of $4,255.50 in fines—almost a semester of tuition at UWM! The administration is victimizing already financially struggling students with these charges.

We view the university administration as hypocrites when they talk about student violence because this is the same university administration that turns their backs to violence as they create business deals with war profiteers.

Milwaukee SDS Demands Justice

  1. A public hearing with Chancellor Santiago to hear the demands of the UWM Education Rights Campaign and to discuss the effects of the economic crisis upon this university.
  2. All charges be dropped against those arrested and charged
  3. An apology from the UW-Milwaukee Police Chief Michael Marzion for excessive use of force

Education Rights Movement Perseveres

Our demands give the public university administration the opportunity to stand with students and workers instead of with the private businesses responsible for this economic crises. On March 4th, the university administration got a small taste of what it’s like when they stand on the side of the bankers and politicians that expect students and workers to pay for their economic crisis.

The details of the March 4th protest overshadowed the plight of the students and workers at UWM who continue to bear the weight of the economic recession as Chancellor Santiago and other high level administrators maintain six figure salaries and cater to the interests of the bankers and politicians.

The events that occurred reveal the administration’s refusal to acknowledge the struggles being faced by students and workers. Chancellor Santiago still will not address the demands of the Education Rights Campaign. The administration’s legitimization of violence used against the protestors and the lies that were constructed to place the blame on the students and workers is unacceptable.

SDS member Molly Ubbesen asserts, “We will continue to fight for democracy and justice at our University.”

Education is a right!

Drop all charges against the Milwaukee 16!

#MilwaukeeWI #StudentsForADemocraticSociety #EducationRights