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UW-Milwaukee SDS rallies to get cops off campus

By Ryan Hamann |
September 27, 2020
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Veronica Roll of UWM SDS speaks during the rally
Veronica Roll of UWM SDS speaks during the rally announcing their campaign to disband the campus police department. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI - On the evening of September 25, organizers with the recently re-formed University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) led a rally in Spaights Plaza on campus. More than 20 students and supporters gathered to demand that the university disarm, defund and ultimately disband the campus police.

“This event was held to formally announce our demands of UW Milwaukee, which includes defunding the UWM campus police entirely and redistributing those funds to programs such as ethnic studies and mental health services,” said Veronica Roll, a leader with UWM SDS. “I am overjoyed with the support we received from this rally and can’t wait to connect with the community more to work on this issue.”

Many organizations were represented at the event, demonstrating the popularity of the call to disband the campus police. Chants of “Take it to the streets, defund the police - no justice, no peace!” and “Dare to struggle, dare to win!” rung throughout the plaza.

The speeches highlighted that the UWM cops don’t protect people, citing the fact that the overwhelming majority of their activities involve harassing students and issuing them citations. Other than that, their armed presence on campus puts students, particularly oppressed nationality students, at unease.

Just last year, in the spring of 2019, there was a violent incident involving the UWM police. A man, Irie Payne, was found sleeping in an empty building on a mostly empty campus during spring break. The police aggressively engaged Payne, and it ultimately led to him being shot several times. Payne thankfully escaped this encounter with his life.

Two months later, their use of potentially deadly force was ruled justified. In February 2020, Payne was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. His charges included reckless endangerment and resisting arrest, both linked to the encounter that left him hospitalized with bullet wounds.

UWM SDS plans to carry forward their campaign to disarm, defund and disband the campus police department, and to reinvest that money in student needs. They join a number of other SDS chapters and other student organizations nationally in the effort to neutralize violence caused by these cops.