Police detain pro-Palestinian protesters on University of Texas campus

Texas state police detained multiple pro-Palestinian demonstrators Wednesday on the University of Texas (UT) at Austin campus after hundreds of students walked out of classes and began a sit-in to support Gaza amid Israel’s war against Hamas.

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety said more than 20 arrests were made on campus, while social media videos showed the state police in riot gear attempting to disperse the crowd.

The state police said they came at the request of the university and the governor “in order to prevent any unlawful assembly and to support UT Police in maintaining the peace by arresting anyone engaging in any sort of criminal activity, including criminal trespass.”

“Arrests being made right now & will continue until the crowd disperses. These protesters belong in jail. Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period,” Gov. Greg Abbott (R) posted on the social media platform X. “Students joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled.”

The university had been bracing for the protests that began midday Wednesday, with the office of student affairs sending out a statement warning students there would be consequences for participating in the event.  

“UT Austin does not tolerate disruptions of campus activities or operations like we have seen at other campuses,” a spokesperson for the office said. “This is an important time in our semester with students finishing classes and studying for finals, and we will act first and foremost to allow those critical functions to proceed without interruption.”

The protest mimics others that have happened at numerous campuses across the country. The past week has seen demonstrations at several elite institutions where protesters set up encampments on university property.

The Palestinian Solidarity Committee of Austin posted on Instagram that it was following, “In the footsteps of our comrades at Columbia SJP, Rutgers-New Brunswick, Yale, and countless others across the nation.”

“We will be establishing THE POPULAR UNIVERSITY FOR GAZA and demanding our administration divest from death,” the post read.

Several schools have threatened suspension for students who participate, and more than 100 activists have been arrested at Columbia University.

Columbia moved their classes to hybrid due to concerns about safety.

The Hill has reached out to state police for further comment.

—Updated at 5:52 p.m.

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