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Milwaukee activists disrupt UW board of regents meeting to get Palestine on the agenda

Activists pose proudly with their citations that ban them from the building at UWM where they disrupted a UW board of regents meeting to get Palestine on the agenda.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Milwaukee, WI – On June 6, the student movement steadfastly continued their efforts to get the University of Wisconsin System to disclose its funds and to divest from the apartheid regime of Israel.

At the June UW System board of regents meeting, approximately 15 students and community members entered the open-session financial meeting to disrupt the scheduled programming.

As this meeting was hosted at UW-Milwaukee, the UWM Popular University for Palestine Coalition led the effort to get on the agenda. Kayla Patterson, a coalition leader as well as a member of UWM Students for a Democratic Society and the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, led the disruption by standing and speaking directly to the board, going through the facts of the matter at hand.

Patterson echoed the calls of thousands in shaming the universities for complacency in genocide as she others followed by standing and holding signs reading “As we sit here, over 40,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered at the hands of the settler-apartheid regime of Israel, with thousands more reported missing under the rubble.”

As she continued with her speech, in came the cavalry. A mixed force of approximately 30 Milwaukee, Madison, Marquette, and Whitewater campus police aggressively grabbed the protesters, stating that they were under arrest, and herded them into a nearby building, where a total of 13 people were taken into custody.

These tactics were similar to the historic February 9 sit-in at UW-Milwaukee, where students saw ten different police precincts swarm the divestment protest in Chapman Hall.

The detained protesters are now banned from the student union through the month of June. They were let go with warnings that cited UW-Milwaukee policies and state statutes. There were also signs about the ban placed on-site as of June 6.

After the protesters were released, they started discussing upcoming strategy for further struggle in the campaign for the university to disclose and divest. A successful disruption and continuation of the encampment’s struggle was accomplished. The future of the student movement remains uncharted, but one thing is for certain – the students united will never be defeated.

The student solidarity movement that was sparked by the Columbia Gaza Solidarity encampment on April 17 brought a tsunami of student activism and civil disobedience, and the schools of the University of Wisconsin System were no different. After a week of watching the beginnings of a movement live-streamed, the UW System students gathered their resources and started Gaza solidarity encampments of their own.

UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee started their encampments on April 29, and UW-Whitewater and UW-La Crosse held sit-ins protesting their respective university’s complacency in genocide. After different degrees of struggle, schools made concessions, including calling for a ceasefire, condemning the destruction of Palestinian educational institutions , and meetings with financial foundations from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Students employed a diversity of tactics and actions and the student who participated in the many actions across the Universities of Wisconsin System have developed a target for their efforts – the UW board of regents.

The UWM Popular University for Palestine Coalition includes Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Muslim Student Association (MSA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Un-PAC UW-Milwaukee, and Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA).

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