Apr 24, 2024 - Politics

Dozens arrested at pro-Palestinian protest at UT

Law enforcement officers in riot gear deployed at the University of Texas on Wednesday.

Law enforcement officers in riot gear at the University of Texas on Wednesday. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of people at the University of Texas were arrested by law enforcement Wednesday at a pro-Palestinian protest.

Why it matters: The confrontations between police and protesters over the Israel-Hamas war that have shaken universities across the country have now materialized at UT.

Driving the news: The Palestinian Solidarity Committee of Austin had urged students to walk out of class and rally at UT's South Lawn Wednesday.

  • The arrests came amid a major show of force by police, including the deployment of dozens of state troopers on horses and in riot gear.
  • A Fox 7 Austin photographer also was arrested, the outlet confirmed.
  • An attorney with the Austin Lawyers Guild said about 54 people were being held at the Travis County Jail related to the protest, per the Statesman.

What they're saying: "These protesters belong in jail," Gov. Greg Abbott wrote on X, accusing the protesters of hate speech.

  • "Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period. Students joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled," Abbott said.
  • UT President Jay Hartzell said in a statement Wednesday evening that the university had enforced its rules "while protecting the Constitutional right to free speech."
A student is arrested during a pro-Palestine demonstration at the The University of Texas at Austin.
A student is arrested during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at UT. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The other side: "UT Austin goes from firing staff to arresting students in a span of a month," Shawntal Z. Brown, a doctoral student in the Program of Higher Education Leadership and Policy at UT, wrote on X.

  • She was referring to the laying off of at least 60 staff members who worked in diversity, equity and inclusion-related positions.
  • "This is just showing that (the) institution is not a safe place for all and does not foster a sense of belonging... Truly a shame."

Friction point: Travis County Attorney Delia Garza said her office would review each case and determine whether charges are necessary.

  • "The events today at UT-Austin and the overwhelming police response to what appears to have been a peaceful demonstration should be concerning to all who believe in our Constitution," she said in a statement.

What's next: A planned Thursday rally at UT protesting the diversity, equity and inclusion program cuts will likely focus on the arrests instead, a professor told the Statesman.

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