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Wisconsin Police Arrest Suspect for Assaulting Jewish Students with Rocks During Vigil for Hostages

A warrant was sought Thursday for a Deerfield man who was charged with disorderly conduct as a hate crime after police said they believe he is one of two men suspected of dropping rocks on people who had taken part in a vigil in support of Israel last month.

Police reviewed Madison and UW street camera footage and saw someone they believe to be Ethan W. Hanson, 21, with another man on the roof of the building that houses Starbucks, 661 State St., according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court.

The complaint states that four women were walking from a vigil on Library Mall around 7:15 p.m. on Nov. 7 and were in the 600 block of State Street when one of them felt something hit her. The group, some of whom had Israeli flags draped over them, stopped and looked up and saw what appeared to be someone sitting on the roof of a nearby building.

One of the women told police that when she looked up, confused, a person on the roof yelled, “It’s because you’re wearing an Israeli flag, you (expletive) fascists.”

Another in the group said she heard the person say, “Free Palestine,” the complaint states.

Disorderly conduct is normally a misdemeanor carrying up to 90 days in jail but as a hate crime, the penalty is increased.

Court Commissioner Jason Hanson declined to sign an arrest warrant Thursday afternoon because the criminal complaint had stated the incorrect penalty for the hate crime. He asked prosecutors to issue a corrected complaint.

The vigil took place about a month after the terrorist group Hamas had killed around 1,200 people in Israel and took 240 hostages. Since then, at least 17,177 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. In recent weeks the war was paused to allow for the release of some hostages by Hamas and Palestinian prisoners by Israel.

According to the complaint:

One of the women told police she and her friends were shocked this had happened and that it had made her feel “very small.” She said she had experienced antisemitism in the past, but this was the first time there was a physical threat. Another in the group said all four are Jewish UW-Madison students.

A review of camera footage by police found that two people had been on the roof of Starbucks when the four women were walking east on State Street. Two sets of legs could be seen dangling over the side of the building, one of them in lighter-colored jeans.

The four women could be seen walking by Starbucks when they stopped and looked up. Two of them were wearing Israeli flags.

The complaint states, without elaboration, that Detective Gracia Rodriguez “tracked down the subjects who had been on the roof.” They were described as men in their 20s. One had a distinct mohawk and was wearing a dark jacket, light-colored jeans and black shoes. The other had dark, curly hair and was wearing glasses, a dark trench coat, jeans and black shoes.

Again without elaboration, the complaint states Rodriguez obtained video from a UW-Madison police detective showing what was said to be the police contact that was described, and that the person involved was the one with the mohawk, identified as Hanson. It is unclear to what police contact the passage refers.

The complaint also states police had contact with Hanson earlier in the day, on a different Downtown rooftop.

Around 2:10 p.m., Officer Nikki Acker was sent to check property in the 500 block of North Lake Street, where a man was reported “hanging over the roof.”

When Acker arrived, she found a man, identified as Hanson, sitting on the roof. Asked what he was doing, he said, “eating banana bread.” He said he had climbed up there and was not intending to hurt himself, he just wanted to climb up there.

The complaint states Acker asked him several times if he lived there, but each time he replied, “Maybe I do, maybe I don’t.” He agreed to come down off the roof.

Source: https://madison.com/news/local/crime-courts/madison-crime-ethan-hanson-hate-disorderly-conduct-israel/article_5340136c-953a-11ee-b21d-9f2cf588ef11.html