Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

UW-Milwaukee Won’t Punish Student For Holding Swastika At Pro-Israel Event

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee won’t discipline the student who held up a sign with a swastika that called for gassing Jews, noting it was “freedom of speech,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Kristian Gresham held the sign on May 6, at a campus Israel Independence Day event. The front featured a swastika, and the back said “gas” above triple brackets, a symbol used by anti-Semites to refer to Jews.

Police were nearby but didn’t intervene until other students tried to take down the sign, video showed.

Gresham, 26, told the Jewish students who approached him that he thought his sign was “funny.”

In addition to going on a racist rant, he claimed that Jews were behind the opioid crisis and supported “many abortions.”

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee chancellor Mark Mone said the day after the event that Gresham was exercising his free speech rights, and that the school “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.”

“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 continued.

University police agreed that Gresham’s activities were protected under the First Amendment, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

Mone put out another statement last week, apologizing for appearing insufficiently condemnatory in his previous statement.

A petition to have Gresham expelled has received 1,100 signatories. “What Kristian Gresham did was not just an expression of speech,” it read. “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.”

Alyssa Fisher is a writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.