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Campus cops, student government leader spar over his calls to defund the police

Campus police call him out on Twitter

University of Wisconsin-Madison’s police department recently called out a student government leader for what they allege is duplicity in his statements on campus cops.

At the end of September, the student government passed a no-confidence vote in the school’s police department. At the time, the chair of the Associated Students of Madison, Matthew Mitnick, said the student government was not advocating for a defunding or abolition of campus police.

He also apparently told the campus police the same in two meetings. But then Mitnick tweeted on October 11:

.@UWBIPOCCo and @TAA_Madison have had it right from the start – @UWMadisonPolice needs to be defunded. And while we’re at it, let’s just get them off campus entirely.

He tagged UW-Madison BIPOC Coalition, an activist group on campus that wants to defund campus police. TAA-Madison refers to a graduate employees union on campus.

In response, UW-Madison police’s Twitter account replied:

In our first two meetings with ASM leaders, @matthewmitnick_ told us more than once that it was not ASM’s aim to defund or abolish UWPD. This certainly goes against Matthew’s own stated position. #mixedmessages.

“Mr. Mitnick’s statement on Twitter today goes against everything he has previously told UWPD in prior meetings,” police spokesperson Marc Lovicott told the student paper The Daily Cardinal. Lovicott criticized Mitnick for stating “multiple times previously that he and ASM have no plans to move forward with an effort to try and defund and/or abolish UWPD.”

Lovicott said his department has worked to combat “misinformation, accusations, and falsehoods” on social media.

“While we will continue to move forward with this approach, we’ve also come to a place in which we can no longer just sit back and continue to watch misinformation and false statements being shared about UWPD.”

Mitnick told the Daily Cardinal that his Twitter account is separate from his student government activities: “My Twitter account clearly notes in my bio that ‘Opinions are my own.’ My personal beliefs are always and should be open to criticisms — but not as an aspect of the dialogue between ASM and UWPD.”

The BIPOC Coalition, which represents black, indigenous, and people of color, criticized the police department for engaging Mitnick.

It said the department’s use of social media “smacks not only of bias and disrespect but represents a continued pattern of unethical behavior that puts students in danger.” It falsely claimed that because the campus police used Twitter scheduling app TweetDeck that the police had planned and scheduled its criticism.

However, TweetDeck allows users to post tweets directly.

Madison BIPOC continues to push for a defunding of the campus police. 

In a joint editorial with the Daily Cardinal editorial board, the group demanded the school “Defund and subsequently abolish the University of Wisconsin Police Department” and “Create a coordinated infrastructure to respond to acts of structural oppression.”

It also wants to remove an Abraham Lincoln statue from campus.

MORE: UC Santa Barbara students, professors demand abolition of campus police

IMAGE: Matthew Mitnick/Twitter

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About the Author
Matt is assistant editor for The College Fix. He previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he also wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and a M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.

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