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UW-Milwaukee Popular University for Palestine enters day 4

By staff

Milwaukee encampment in solidarity with Palestine.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Milwaukee, WI – May 2 marks the fourth day since students, faculty and community supporters flocked to Mitchell Lawn at UW-Milwaukee on April 29 after a massive rally and march. The end of the march saw the rapid assembly of tents and the official launch of an encampment for Palestine, bringing Milwaukee into the national movement sparked by the actions of heroic students at Columbia University and Cal Poly Humboldt.

The four demands of the newly minted UWM Popular University for Palestine Coalition are: One, disclose all financials and divest immediately; two, cut all ties with weapons manufacturers; three, no future educational partnerships with the occupation; and four, release a statement condemning the actions of the apartheid state.

The action was organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Un-PAC, and Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA). Many community organizations collaborated with these student groups.

“I am here until Palestine is free. I am not only here until UWM complies with our demands, but I’m also here fighting until there is a permanent and immediate ceasefire,” said Ameen Atta, one of the leaders of the UWM MSA. “And after that I will still be here fighting until the siege on Gaza is lifted and after that I will still be here until Palestine is liberated and the occupation is lifted.”

Police on that first day amassed across the street, but the various law enforcement agencies ended up dispersing before nightfall and have not returned in force. A barricade around the camp was constructed all the same, and more than 30 tents stood by the time morning broke on April 30. The UWM Popular University for Palestine has remained steadfast ever since.

Spirits have remained high as a result of the intricate planning of the organizers, with ample resources being donated – including food from local Palestinian-owned restaurants – along with a packed daily schedule of teach-ins on various topics and cultural showcases.

“Morale is high, people are very motivated. I think also it’s the lack of police interaction and just straight community support happening. There’s young and old, Palestinian and non-Palestinian, organizers and non-organizers. It’s just a great time all around. We have a lot of students coming out which is really what we wanted. This is a student-led movement, so it’s going very well I’d say,” said Kayla Patterson, a leader with UWM SDS and member for FRSO. “Every day we're recruiting people throughout the day as classes are going on. It feels good to have the good numbers.”

The university administration, headed by absentee chancellor Mark Mone, received the demands of the coalition and released a statement acknowledging them but essentially announcing they'd meet none of them. The students and their allies have affirmed that the encampment will continue until their demands are met.

“We are here at the encampment because for the past seven months, UWM has done absolutely nothing to assure their Palestinian, their Muslim, their Jewish, their students in general that they care about what’s going on,” said Nada Moubarak, another leading member of UWM SDS. “They want to say, ‘this is so far away,’ but no, this is not far away. It directly affects us and UWM directly has ties, so they need to take accountability for that. That’s why I’m here, so UWM administration can take accountability.”

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