Nearly Half Of Those Arrested At UT-Austin Pro-Palestinian Protest Had No Links To School

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Apr 27, 2024 - 03:40 PM

Authored by Jana J Pruet via The Epoch Times,

Nearly half of the pro-Palestinian protesters arrested earlier this week at The University of Texas at Austin were not affiliated with the university.

Law enforcement officials arrested 57 protesters during Wednesday’s event organized by the Palestine Solidarity Committee after participants refused to disperse despite demands from authorities and the university. Of those arrested, 26 were neither students nor faculty of the university, according to officials at UT-Austin.

Hundreds of students walked out of class Wednesday in support of Palestinians in Gaza in the midst of the Israel-Hamas war. The war broke out after Palestinian terror group Hamas launched a brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which left 1,200 Israelis dead. Hamas is believed to still be holding 129 hostages from Israel.

The organizers wrote on Instagram that they aimed to follow “in the footsteps of our comrades at Columbia SJP, Rutgers-New Brunswick, Yale, and countless others,” with SJP referring to Students for Justice in Palestine.

The anti-Israel student group demanded that the university “divest from death.”

“Consistent with this broader movement that is impacting so many, problematic aspects of the planned protest were modeled after a national organization’s protest playbook,” UT–Austin President Jay Hartzell said in a campuswide message Thursday evening.

“And notably, 26 of the 55 individuals arrested yesterday had no UT affiliation.”

Local news outlet KTBC-TV reported that one of its photojournalists was among those arrested during the clash between police and protesters. He was booked into the Travis County jail on a criminal trespassing charge.

By Thursday evening, all of those arrested had been released. The Travis County prosecutor said it had dropped all criminal trespassing charges, citing “deficiencies” in charging documents. Criminal trespassing is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Texas.

According to the Texas Tribune, the Texas Department of Public Safety has opened a criminal investigation into the arrest of the photojournalist.

The UT–Austin chapter of the American Association of University of Professors denounced Mr. Hartzell for allowing authorities to be deployed on campus during the class walkout.

“We, faculty of UT Austin, condemn President Jay Hartzell and our administrative leaders’ decision to invite city police as well as state troopers from across the state—on horses, motorcycles, and bicycles, in riot gear and armed with batons, pepper spray, tear gas and guns to our campus today in response to a planned peaceful event by our students,” read the statement posted on X on Wednesday night.

Policy Violation

Ahead of Wednesday’s demonstration, university officials warned the organizers that the event violated school policy and would not be allowed to take place in an effort to prevent the “pattern” that has occurred across the nation in recent weeks, leading to hundreds of arrests.

“The University’s decision to not allow yesterday’s event to go as planned was made because we had credible indications that the event’s organizers, whether national or local, were trying to follow the pattern we see elsewhere, using the apparatus of free speech and expression to severely disrupt a campus for a long period,” Mr. Hartzell continued.

Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) is a student organization with chapters at colleges and universities across the country.

The group’s website states that it is “dedicated to telling the story of the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination on the university campus and in the wider Austin community. We work to promote education, discourse, activism, and awareness of the Palestinian story through lectures by academics and political activists, movie screenings, and events and displays on the UT West Mall.”

The UT–Austin group, which holds biweekly meetings on campus, states under Article 1 of its bylaws that it will comply with school policies.

“This organization is a recognized student organization at The University of Texas at Austin and shall comply with all campus policies as set forth in the ​Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities and Information on Students’ Rights and Responsibilities,” it says.

UT Suspends Organization

The university suspended the student group from campus after another walkout on Thursday, which was organized in part by the faculty group that condemned the university for enforcing its rules.

Police were present during Thursday’s peaceful event.

“Students and faculty affirmed their commitment to continue struggling for the liberation of Palestine, to demand their university divest, and demand the resignation of President Jay Hartzell for greenlighting the militarized brutality enforced on students,” PSC wrote on Instagram.

PSC has held more than a dozen pro-Palestinian events since October.

“I’m thankful we live in a country where free expression is a fiercely protected Constitutional right,” Mr. Hartzell said in his campuswide message on Thursday.

“I’m grateful that our campus has seen 13 pro-Palestinian events take place during the past several months largely without incident—plus another one today. I am grateful that everyone is safe after yesterday, we continue to hold in-person classes, and that today’s events followed our long-standing campus standards for allowed demonstrations.”

Brian Davis, a spokesperson for the university, confirmed on Friday that the student group had been suspended from campus in the wake of this week’s events. The length of the suspension is not immediately clear. Mr. Davis said that the Dean of Students office would make that determination.

It is unknown whether any students have been reprimanded for the events that occurred earlier this week. That information is protected by federal privacy laws.

“I encourage us all to continue to communicate and work together, and to help our students finish this school year in positive, safe and celebratory ways,” Mr. Hartzell said.