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UWM student wants record cleared after she was arrested for destroying a Nazi sign

A UW-Milwaukee student, who stole a Nazi sign from a demonstrator last May, continues to fight the citations filed against her.

Grae Hosmanek, 19, was arrested last spring for obstructing an officer, vandalism, and theft after she stole and destroyed a sign with a swastika on it.

In May, a student demonstrator was spotted holding the Nazi sign near a group of students attending a Jewish event.

"It made me upset (to see the swastika)," Hosmanek told WTMJ.  "I told my friends I was going to take the sign.  The minute he put it down, I walked over, grabbed it, and ran. It sounded like I scored a 3-pointer at the buzzer.  Everyone went crazy.  I began to tear it up and that's when I was arrested."

The university must protect free speech, according to UWM Police Chief Joe LeMire.

"In that scenario, the officers must balance protecting free speech with someone instigating violence," Chief LeMire said.  "If the act is just protesting, then there is a level of free speech taking place.  I had conversations with the person holding the sign.  He said he was looking to provoke conversation, not violence.  I don't think he understood what (the swastika) symbolizes."

The chief couldn't comment on Hosmanek's citation, since it is a pending court matter.  She has made three court appearances, and has another hearing scheduled in September.  Three of the citations have been dropped, but Hosmanek still faces a vandalism citation. She is pleading not guilty.

"I refuse to accept the charge even though I was offered a $1 plea deal," she said.  "I don't want this on my record.  I have family members (who fought in World War II).  "I don't feel this (citation) is right, considering the offender is walking free (with no repercussions)."

The demonstrator is no longer a student at UW-Milwaukee, a university spokesman told WTMJ.  Citing federal privacy rules, the school would not release more information about his departure.

Hosmanek said she does not feel safe at school.

"It terrifies me," she said.  "We shouldn't have to be afraid to go to school.  He should be banned from campus."

The campus is safe, according to the chief.

"I certainly respect student safety concerns," the chief said.  "UW-Milwaukee is very safe.  We have a large presence of police on campus.  We have a CARE team on campus that deals with threat assessments.  When we have situations (like the one last May), we'll discuss the situation to determine if we're dealing with a true threat."


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