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University of Texas at Austin protesters arrested on campus

USA TODAY
                                Protesters block police vehicles from leaving the University of Texas at Austin. Protesters created an encampment on the UT Tower south lawn meant to call attention to the war in Gaza and to condemn the University of Texas at Austin’s relationship with defense companies. Protesters were given notices to vacate and were then removed by Austin Police, University police, and Texas State Troopers.
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USA TODAY

Protesters block police vehicles from leaving the University of Texas at Austin. Protesters created an encampment on the UT Tower south lawn meant to call attention to the war in Gaza and to condemn the University of Texas at Austin’s relationship with defense companies. Protesters were given notices to vacate and were then removed by Austin Police, University police, and Texas State Troopers.

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Police arrest University of Texas at Austin protesters

Police at the University of Texas on Monday were arresting protesters at a pro-Palestinian demonstration where some were setting up tents on Austin campus.

At least five individuals were seen being detained.

The demonstrators began putting up tents on the school’s main lawn around noon. The campus police statement was sent about an hour later.

While the tents were being set up, dozens of students and demonstrators linked arms, forming a circle around the encampment.

They chanted “free, free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

In their alert, police officials said the students’ behavior is “disorderly conduct.”

“I command you in the name of the University of Texas Police Department to disperse, and if you do not, you shall be arrested,” Assistant Chief Shane Streepy said.

At around 1:30 p.m., dozens of state troopers in riot gear arrived at the South Mall and lined up across from the encampment. Some were carrying zip ties.

After a few minutes, state troopers started advancing towards the encampment and surrounding it.

“After protesters ignored repeated directives from both the administration and law enforcement officers to comply with Institutional Rules and remove tents assembled on the University’s South Lawn, then physically engaged with and verbally assaulted Dean of Students staff who attempted to confiscate them, UT and partner law enforcement agencies dismantled an encampment and arrested several protesters,” UT officials said in a statement Monday afternoon.

“Baseball-size rocks were found strategically placed within the encampment. The majority of protesters are believed to be unaffiliated with the university. On Saturday, the University received extensive online threats from a group organizing today’s protest,” they added.

Gov. Greg Abbott posted on social media at around 3 p.m., “No encampments will be allowed. Instead, arrests are being made.”

Olive Gonzalez, 22, a senior advertising major who didn’t join the protests last week but decided to show support today, said law enforcement’s presence is excessive. Watching UT’s response has been “disheartening,” she said.

“I don’t think that (protesters) came out here with the intention to cause havoc on the university. I think they came out for a worthy cause.” she said.

“If these were their kids getting dragged off and abused by the law enforcement, how would they feel?” said Shan Panjwani, 20, a sophomore studying business. “Are they really just answering orders or do they actually believe in what they’re doing right now? Any normal human, anybody with a moral compass knows that this is wrong.”

Panjwani said that multiple student groups protest for a variety of causes throughout the year, but this one is different.

“The way that they’re responding to the people who protest for this cause specifically is completely different from the way they usually respond to protests,” he said. “You do not need to bring out people with AR’s and riot shields against kids who are unarmed just sitting on the campus where we paid thousands of dollars a year to come to school.”

Austin Democratic state Sen. Sarah Eckhardt said via a phone interview that she was headed to UT’s South Lawn to monitor the protests.

Eckhardt said she has not been in contact with UT President Jay Hartzell. She noted that the decision to remove tents was consistent with demands UT made last week. Officials “were clear in communicating that on the first day, Wednesday, that tents were a type of visible obstruction that they were trying to avoid,” she said.

“The best course of action is to reach out to as many grasstop influencers to deescalate the situation as I can,” Eckhardt added.

Some protesters were seen asking for medics. The National Weather Service showed a heat index of about 90 degrees for much of the afternoon.

By 4 p.m., state troopers and police had cleared out and secured the South Mall. Some protesters attempted to block a police vehicle from leaving campus, but officers used a chemical spray on the crowd, and the vehicle was able to depart. Two loud bangs, about 30 seconds apart and accompanied by white smoke, went off during the confrontation.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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