Student who ripped up swastika sign busted for vandalism

A student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is facing a citation for vandalism after tearing up a person’s swastika sign during an on-campus event.

Grae Hosmanek is a junior at UWM, who was participating in the student-run event for an organization called Students Supporting Israel when she ended up getting herself into trouble with university police. Chief Joseph LeMire of the UWM Police Department tells Yahoo Lifestyle that officers were at the scene of the event to ensure that it was able to go on without interruption. And, although a man holding a swastika sign later showed up, he wasn’t the one police say was causing a disturbance.

“He was probably 30, 40, 50 feet, depending on where he had moved from, away from that event where he was holding onto his sign,” LeMire says of the man. “[Hosmanek] was making gestures as if she was going to do something to the person that was holding the sign. Proactively, an officer in the area made contact with her and said, ‘Whatever you’re thinking, don’t do it. You might get yourself in trouble. Stay back, don’t interfere.’ And she agreed that she would not interfere.”

The officer goes onto explain that Hosmanek ultimately disregarded his cohort’s advice when she ran over to the person holding the sign while officers weren’t looking.

“[She] ripped the sign out of his hands, and then ran away ripping it up while the officers had to go after her, make contact with her,” LeMire says. “We arrested her and brought her back to one of our squad cars.”

Hosmanek was informed of the multiple citations she could have faced. However, after she had admitted her fault in the situation and cooperated with officers, LeMire says that they did what they could to give a violation less severe than the resist obstruct they had given on-site.

“We decided, let’s change the ticket to vandalism because that would look better on her record, and additionally it would be $200 less of a forfeiture amount that she would have to pay if found guilty,” LeMire explains. “It’s something that looks better on her record.”

Still, local Milwaukee station WITI reports that Hosmanek is fighting that citation as she believes that the police “weren't taking care” of the threat caused by the man holding the sign.

“I kind of watched the interactions he was having with other students, and how they became increasingly upset,” Hosmanek told the local outlet. “He was saying things like, 'Gas the Jews.’”

According to LeMire, “That did not happen.”

The officer explains that the man’s verbal speech wasn’t at all consistent with the sign he was holding. In fact, the man, identified as Chris, told WITI that he just “wanted to spark the conversation.” As a result, LeMire says that the man’s sign was a form of protected speech, while Hosmanek’s actions were, in fact, a threat.

A spokesperson for the university tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the man who was holding the sign is not enrolled for the upcoming fall semester for undisclosed reasons. Hosmanek didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. She has a court date set for Sept. 27.

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