The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee won't act against student who held up a swastika sign and called for Jews to be gassed

The chancellor said his institution 'will always be a forum for the free exchange of ideas'


An American university has declined to take any action against a student who held up a swastika sign with a call to gas Jews outside a campus Israel Independence Day event, citing “freedom of speech”.

Kristian Gresham, a 26-year old student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, displayed the sign with the swastika symbol in front of the event on May 6.

On the back of his sign was the word “Gas” with numerous brackets – a means Neo-Nazis use to identify Jewish people online.

Videos taken of the student show police standing by, appearing to take no action against him.

But a TV journalist on the scene said police had stepped in to take action against those who tried to destroy the sign.

When questioned by Jewish students, Mr Gresham said he was “the wrong colour to be a Nazi”, but then launched into a diatribe about how he “could pull up countless articles about how African Americans are saying ‘I want a black-centred graduation, I want black spaces, to be safe from white people. So let’s just segregate them.

“Segregation. Kick them the f*** out. Get out of my country. If you want to come here and be on welfare and all that kind of s***, get the f*** out. I work for what I do.”

Asked why he was holding a swastika sign, Mr Gresham said: “I think it’s funny. I look at it and I laugh.”

He went on to rant about how “we have so many people addicted to opiates, that’s why we have so many abortions, so many STDs, so many dregs in society. You go and look at the African American community and what’s going on over there.

“And you know who propagates this bulls***, it’s them”, he said, pointing. “You go ahead and you look at the head of any company, who funds any of this bullshit, and you’re going to find out it’s Jews, every single time.”

Mark Mone, chancellor of the university, responded on May 7 by insisting that the university “will always be a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas are hateful or repugnant and challenge our thinking in dreadfully unsettling ways.”

He also said that under the first amendment, displaying offensive symbols like a swastika in a public space is “protected akin to speech".

“Nevertheless, please know that we emphatically renounce such hateful symbols and do not support or condone any viewpoint that is hurtful, harmful or disparaging,” he said.

Subsequently, Mr Mone, released a further statement acknowledging his first message "did not fully capture or reflect how deeply saddened, frustrated and angry I am personally, as a member of this community, that anyone would inflict such pain and fear on our Panther family.

"I am sorry.”

A petition calling for the expulsion of Mr Gresham from the university has received more than 1,000 signatures. 

"What Kristian Gresham did was not just an expression of speech", the petition said.

"He threatened the safety and education of his fellow students. 'Gas the Jews' is not protected free speech. It’s incitement of violence against the Jewish community on campus."

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