Swastika sign riles U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee event celebrating Israel

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A man brought a swastika sign to an event celebrating Israel’s independence at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

About 250 students attended the daylong event held by the Students Supporting Israel campus group and the campus Hillel.

Students confronted the man carrying the sign, who identified himself as Chris, the local ABC affiliate WISN reported. It identified him as a student.

He told the news channel that he brought the swastika sign because he knew it would draw attention at such a gathering and allow him to talk to the media about issues such as the rise in single mother homes, the opioid addiction and the high number of abortions.

One of the event’s organizers, junior Sarah Berry called the campus police. They said they couldn’t do anything about the sign.

The university said the swastika was protected by free speech.

“As a public university, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee respects everyone’s right to free speech, even when it is speech that we disagree with,” the school said in a statement Monday afternoon.

“I worked hard for this event and wanted everyone to celebrate, and to see someone come up with a swastika was really disappointing and frustrating,” Berry said.

The event was held outside the Golda Meir Library, named for the late Israeli prime minister who grew up in Milwaukee.