Apr 26, 2024 - News

Pro-Palestinian protests continue at North Texas colleges

A photo of students holding up a Palestinian flag during a protest

Demonstrators against the war rallied yesterday at the University of Texas in Austin. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

College students in North Texas and across the country are challenging their school leaders to re-evaluate ties to Israel.

Driving the news: On Tuesday, around 100 students held a sit-in at UT Dallas to demand that the university divest from companies that produce weapons and military equipment used by Israel, per the Dallas Morning News.

  • Over 50 people at the University of Texas at Austin were arrested at a pro-Palestinian protest on Wednesday. The Travis County attorney later dropped charges for most of those arrested.
  • And, at UT Arlington, around 150 protesters participated in a walkout to protest the war in Gaza.

Why it matters: The confrontations between police and protesters over Israel's destruction of Gaza — and America's role in it — have shaken universities across the country, forcing campus leaders to decide how they will enforce rules around large gatherings without infringing on First Amendment rights.

Zoom in: UT Arlington tells Axios the protest on Wednesday was "held without incident."

  • UTA President Jennifer Cowley sent a message to the campus community before the protest, saying the school is "committed to the safety of the UTA community while respecting the rights of students to peacefully express their views and opinions in an appropriate manner."

Between the lines: Students have protested in support of Palestinian rights for decades but the recent protests are much larger, attracting more diverse crowds.

The other side: Pro-Israel groups say the country has a right to defend itself against Hamas. Many have characterized criticism of Israel as antisemitism.

  • "These protesters belong in jail," Gov. Greg Abbott wrote on X after the UT Austin arrests.
  • "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," the governor said.

Flashback: Protests embroiled college campuses in the 1960s, with students calling on the U.S. to end the draft and withdraw from Vietnam.

  • Many historians have said the campus protests were a turning point because they gained national support for ending the war.
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