UW Student Pleads Guilty to Black Church Arson

Row of empty church pews.
Credit: Thinkstock

A White University of Wisconsin-Madison student who is attempting to start a White nationalist movement on campus previously served time in prison for arson, WISC-TV reports.

33-year-old Daniel Dropik pleaded guilty to arson charges after setting two predominantly Black churches on fire—one in Milwaukee and the other in Michigan—in 2005, according to court records.

He was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in prison. An April 16 fire caused roughly $1,000 in damage to Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee. The next day another fire was started, and caused $5,000 in damage to the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lansing, Michigan.

Court documents say Dropik set the fires as racial retaliation for previous encounters with Black people. The encounters are unrelated to either church. The documents say the fires are a result of Dropik allegedly getting beat up by several Black men at a party at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“I have also become aware that he was convicted in 2005 of racially motivated arsons of two African-American churches,” UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement. “I am appalled by attacks on churches and by organizations that express hatred of people of color, Jews, Muslims or any other identity.”

The University System’s admission application doesn’t ask about students’ criminal history as part of the admissions process. Blank said she now plans to review the policy.

The Student Coalition for Progress will be holding a demonstration against the alt-right Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Bascom Hill.

“We call on members of the UW campus community, the Madison community and anyone else concerned about the rise of white supremacist groups growing on campus to join us for a mass demonstration” organizers said in an email to News 3.

The alt-right, or alternative right, is a loosely based group of people who possess far-right ideologies. They largely consists of White nationalists and those who oppose liberalism.