Police remove Gaza encampment at UW-Madison, make multiple arrests

Nearly 60 law enforcement officers gathered at Library Mall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus early in the morning of May 1 and proceeded to remove tents and other items from a Palestinian solidarity protest encampment, arresting multiple people in the process.

Associated Press

May 1, 2024 • South Central Region

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Dozens of police officers, with some holding transparent shields with the words State Patrol and Sheriff on their fronts, stand in a group amid a larger group of protestors, some holding signs and wearing kaffiyehs, in a shadowed outdoor area, with a sunlit lawn and masonry building with balustrades in the background.

Dozens of law enforcement officers stand in a group in the midst of a pro-Palestinian demonstration on Library Mall at the UW-Madison campus on May 1, 2024. Police removed tents and and other items from an encampment and arrested multiple people. (Credit: Nathan Denzn / PBS Wisconsin)

AP News

Police removed an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and have taken away several protesters.

Several police officers arrived at the encampment on the campus’ Library Mall around 7 a.m. on May 1 and played a recorded message on a loop saying it was a final warning and that protesters were in violation of university code, WISC-TV reported.

About 20 minutes later, nearly 60 police officers, some with riot shields, arrived and began removing tents and other items, the station reported. Protesters chanted “students hold your ground” and “long live Palestine.”

Video from WISC-TV showed police with riot shields pushing against protesters and the protesters pushing back while chanting slogans, including “Free Free Palestine.” The station said that at least 10 protesters were taken away by police with their hands zip-tied by officers.

Police later removed some tents that had remained at the encampment, but about 30 protesters surrounded another tent to prevent officers from reaching it. The protesters’ tents and belongings were loaded into a dump truck.

Campus leaders and police previously warned students to comply with state law and university rules, which prohibit unauthorized camping on campus. But on April 29, several hundred protesters gathered on Library Mall, located between Memorial Library and the Wisconsin Historical Society, and established an encampment, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Campus police spokesperson Marc Lovicott said four officers were injured May 1 as police tried to remove protesters’ tents from Library Mall.

Lovicott said a state trooper was hit in the head with a skateboard and three sheriff’s deputies suffered injuries “directly related to the physical resistance from protesters.”

At least 34 people were arrested on May 1. Most of those arrested were released “with no citation issued,” Lovicott said. But four people were booked into the Dane County jail, he said. Two face charges of battery to a police officer. A third person was charged with that plus resisting arrest. And a fourth person was charged with attempted disarming of a police officer, resisting arrest and attempted escape.

Within hours, protesters had erected more tents on Library Mall.

Editor’s note: PBS Wisconsin is a service of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

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