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Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

‘We stand in solidarity’

Chancellor, campus police respond to neo-Nazi demonstration
Katie Popp
UW-Whitewater Chancellor Corey King discusses campus safety following the neo-Nazi demonstration on Jan. 21 during the town hall meeting on Jan. 30, 2024.

With questions about campus safety following the Jan. 21 neo-Nazi demonstration, UW-Whitewater Chancellor Corey King and UW-W Police Department Chief Matt Kiederlen invited students and staff to an open forum to discuss the outcome, as well as provide additional information on the case.

Campus police were called around 5:40 p.m. and had an officer on scene within two minutes, said Kiederlen. Upon his arrival, the group had already departed.

Police cameras have images showing the group departing the city of Whitewater, however, have no license plate to identify the vehicle nor its owner. The night before the first day of school, the hate group lit off red flares and shined a red swastika on the side of the building while chanting ominous racist threats such as “we are everywhere” and “there will be blood,” among others specifically targeting Hispanic people.

“We have developed some contacts and had some groups reach out to us, specifically the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, to help us verify this group,” Kiederlen said. “We were also able to liaison with the FBI Fusion Center in Milwaukee to figure out where their social media was. The FBI and us continue to work together and become more focused on this group as this is their fifth incident we know of in Wisconsin.”

The group posted to their social media following the Jan. 21 demonstration that it was a response to the influx of immigrants into the Whitewater community, therefore holding no direct connection to the campus.

The group additionally posted to its website that they were not there to create violence, but rather “spread PTSD and get out.”

“I want to be clear,” Chancellor King said, “as an institution we stand in solidarity for people, your beliefs and your spaces. We hold as an institution core values and we’re going to live up to these core values.”

King and Kiederlen opened the discussion to students, many of whom expressed their feelings about campus safety as well as action that could be taken right now to increase protection.

“We should never put the safety of our campus on the students,” King said. “We should be holding each other accountable in the spaces where we are looking out for each other.” 

Following the demonstration, police presence has increased on campus to ensure protection throughout academic and residential halls.

Additional concerns were raised about protection during student events and allowing students to maintain activities without any safety concerns.

“The best way to make our events better for our campus is for us to show up,” Student Activities and Involvement Director Jan Bilgen said. “Because then we are not only supporting each other, but we have a lot more eyes on what our culture is and we see things that are not typical to our campus in a good way.” 

Many students similarly were concerned due to a lack of communication from the campus police, particularly an email following the demonstration.

“The reason I did not (send a message) is we did not see a continuing threat to campus which is what triggers those messages,” said Kiederlen. “In retrospect, I would not do that again.”

With student input, Chancellor King and Chief Kiederlen are working with student leaders and administrators to ensure student safety and outreach. 

“It will take a community for us to be in a safe space,” King concluded. “It does take a community, and there are things all of us, as we examine ourselves, that we can do better.”

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About the Contributor
Katie Popp, Campus News Editor

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