Media Contact

David Gwidt, ACLU of Wisconsin Deputy Communications Director,

May 1, 2024

MADISON – On Wednesday morning, police in riot gear were called to UW-Madison to dismantle encampments set up by students peacefully expressing solidarity with Palestine. While the encampments were non-violent and posed no risk to public safety, law enforcement needlessly escalated the situation by making arrests and using physical force that injured at least two protesters.

ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Dr. Melinda Q. Brennan said the following: 

“Responding to peaceful acts of dissent with militarized police is dangerous and only makes things worse. Too often in situations like this, we’ve seen police behave recklessly, violate the law, and endanger people gathered at protests and acts of civil disobedience.

Inviting armed police into a campus protest environment can create unacceptable risks for all students, faculty, and staff. University officials must also be aware of the history of law enforcement using inappropriate and excessive force on communities of color, including Black, Brown, and immigrant students. Moreover, arresting peaceful protestors is also likely to escalate, not calm, the tensions on campus — as events of the past week have made abundantly clear. 

Non-violent, peaceful acts of civil disobedience have always been an instrumental part of social movements, and students should not be sanctioned for them, much less subjected to excessive, hostile policing, or destruction of their property.”