Scot McCullough's narrative about the SLAC Palermo's rally and sit-in, April 29, 2013

We arrived at Bascom hall at 3:38. I would guess there were about 15 people in the lobby area at that time. The occupiers were already in Ward's office. In the lobby, there were just about as many police officers as ralliers. Students and community members were on their computers getting the word far and wide, some were taking pictures and videos, and others were talking about the contract and what it meant for them.

At about 4:00 or 4:10, an officer came forward to tell us that we were engaged in an unlawful assembly outside the office, since we were not their for class or for an appointment with anyone in the building. We were told that if we did not leave, we would be arrested. This was unexpected, and many people didn't know how to react. One woman who was with us questioned him, and they began arguing with each other. We had a lawyer with us, and he asked for the specific law we were breaking and how. The officer began reading the law.

A student began a bellowing "Which side are you on, boy? Which side are you on?" Another joined in, and another. Soon, we couldn't hear the officer over the echoing voices of those present, and the mood lightened as we realized we were too many and they too few to arrest us, and they had been hoping to just scare us off.. We continued singing and chanting outside the office, joining in with those inside at times as well.

We soon heard shouting from the hallway opposite from Ward's office. Police had been positioning themselves around the area and had gotten into a situation, you could say. They had let a white man ("6'6", can't miss his ass") walk past, and not 10 seconds later stopped a black man from entering. They couldn't say what had changed in that 10 seconds. The man who was stopped felt strongly that he was stopped because of the color of his skin, and was not shy about saying so. This drew a lot of attention because of how loud it became and how wrong it was. The brother of the man stopped was talking to police, and asking others to join up with the rally outside instead of focusing on this.

Speakers and ralliers met outside the window of Ward's office. I was walking around the building and found all the doors to now be locked. At 4:55, In the parking lot facing lakeshore (I think it is... it was near that big bell tower), I saw a bunch of cop cars, and officers having a meeting outside the doors over there. 3 minutes later I saw a large police van come over and park. Messages were sent out to people in the rally.

The rally headed over to that side of the building, assuming that arrests were imminent and that people would be taken to this side. I continued to walk around the building, and at 5:09, I found myself outside the window to Ward's office (where the rally had been before), and I could hear zip-ties being pulled, and people chanting "We are not resisting." Arrests were in progress.

The students from the inside were coming out of the front doors of the building, nearest Ward's office (a bunch happened during that situation with the people who were inside, but I wasn't there so I don't know it well). The rally then came over to those doors where people were coming out of. The occupiers exited the building to cheers and some of them spoke to the crowd.

I went back to walking around the building to see how things were going everywhere. Some time had passed when I got back to the police van where the rally had moved to. There were a few people over there already. We could hear shouting coming from inside the back of the van (I'm pretty sure those things are supposed to be damn close to soundproof). I ran up and saw Max Love peeking his face through the window from inside the back of the van. Word went out, and the rally quickly came back to this spot.

Ralliers circled the van, and many sat down. Chants of "Free Love" quickly ensued. We continued the speakers at this location. Our same lawyer from before was talking with the police to see what could be about Max. After some time and a number of speakers, the lawyer said that the officers had agreed to release Max, but he would still be facing legal penalties. It took more than a while before Max was actually released (the lawyer said that the computer that the cops use to print tickets wasn't working, and they had to figure out how to write one by hand), and speakers and singers continued.

After Max got out, ralliers released the circle around the van, and the rally returned to the front of Bascom. There were a few more people who spoke, pictures were taken, and the Solidarity Singers continued as the ralliers dispersed.

I was not on the inside of the occupation for any time, but I spoke to a number of the people who were to try to get the story of what happened there:

The Chancellor's office is, at all times, locked. (Note: This is because of two student occupations between 2000 and 2002, where students demanded the university adopt a Code of Conduct for apparel licensing and affiliation with the Worker Rights Consortium. At that time, then-Chancellor and current-Interim Chancellor David Ward had students pepper sprayed and nearly 50 students were arrested. Ward stepped down at the end of that year from Chancellor, and the office has been locked since then.) To get inside, one student went to the door with a "package for the Chancellor" that was too big for the mail slot. When the office assistant opened the door, the student held it open while the rest of the folks ran in. The 12 occupiers were able to get into the outer office, but not all the way into Ward's inner office. Once inside, the occupiers started tweeting and facebooking and taking pictures, getting the news out. They chanted and sang and made a banner, and had a merry time.

When officers came in, it was quick and sudden. The occupiers had their hands zip-tied, and at least one student was pinned to the ground. They were taken out of the room one or two at a time, and had different experiences at that point. They all had their information taken down. However, some were asked if they wanted to be charged or not. Others had nothing about charges said to them. Others (Max Love) refused to do what they told him until they told him what the legal situation was. All (except for Max) were released from the building on their own. At the time of writing, I am not aware of any legal consequences any of the occupiers face, except for Max. However, the occupiers who were students at UW-Madison are facing potential non-academic misconduct charges.

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