All 57 jailed during pro-Palestinian protest at UT were released

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Friday, April 26, 2024
All 57 jailed during pro-Palestinian protest at UT were released
Texas state troopers were called to the University of Texas in Austin Wednesday in response to pro-Palestine protests. At least 57 arrests were made, and they have all been released.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- All 57 people arrested during Wednesday's pro-Palestinian protest on the University of Texas campus were released from jail by Thursday afternoon, the Travis County Sheriff's Office confirmed.

In addition, prosecutors announced that all 46 criminal trespass charges against the protesters had been dismissed due to lack of probable cause.

After walking out of class a little before noon, students attempted to "occupy" the school's South Lawn. Video from the scene shows police pushing back demonstrators and handcuffing others.

"As soon as we started marching, they blocked us from marching. It wasn't even 10 minutes into the protest when someone got arrested," Yara Bitar said.

The school's paper, The Daily Texan, reported roughly 50 state troopers were seen in riot gear and issued a two-minute warning for protesters to disperse.

Protesters hoped to get UT to stop supporting businesses that they say support Israel's bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the Hamas terror attacks last October.

"We are speaking up as a people to say, as a student body to say, 'Divest from Israel. Show that you support Palestinian life and Palestinian liberty,'" Hamza Bouderdaben said.

The protest quickly drew the ire of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who posted online, "These protesters belong in jail. Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period."

"The Palestinian cause is not an antisemitic one. It's a liberty one," Bouderdaben said.

As the day wore on and the number of arrests surged, many moved from the UT campus to the Travis County Jail, where they stood vigil into the late evening, calling for all of those arrested to be released.

"I've been here a few hours. Plan to be here as long as it takes. If I need to stay here overnight, we got plenty of food," Ali Arif said.

Before dawn Thursday morning, some of the first demonstrators were released.

"They were telling us to push back, so I pushed back with the people I was with, and then they just pointed at me, like, 'Get that guy. He's been there for a while,'" Daniel Ducharme, one of the jailed demonstrators, said.

"They kept on trying to push us back, and you can only go back so far," James Rodriguez, another jailed demonstrator, told ABC13.

A photographer for Austin's Fox television station was also released from jail around 11 a.m. Cell phone footage shows him being pulled to the ground by DPS troopers as he's filming the protest.

Texas DPS has yet to explain the reason for his arrest.

The UT Division of Student Affairs released the following statement in light of Wednesday's protests:

"UT Austin does not tolerate disruptions of campus activities or operations like we have seen at other campuses. 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."

ABC News reportedly obtained an email from the university sent to the Palestine Solidarity Committee Tuesday night advising that Wednesday's events were not permitted.

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