Dozens arrested at UT-Austin, USC amid Israel-Hamas protest crackdown in universities

Dozens of activists taking part in pro-Palestine protests on university campuses around the country were arrested Wednesday evening, as colleges struggled to quell rising outrage over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

As of 9 p.m. local time, at least 34 arrests had been made on the University of Texas, Austin campus, with an undetermined number made during a protest at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement that the arrests were made in response to UT’s request for help and at the order of Gov. Greg Abbott, with the goal of preventing unlawful assembly and assisting UT police in maintaining the pace.

“These protesters belong in jail, Abbott remarked on X. “We will not allow anti-Semitism in Texas. Period. Students who attend hate-filled, anti-Semitic protests at any public institution or university in Texas should be expelled.”

Dozens arrested at UT-Austin, USC amid Israel-Hamas protest crackdown in universities

The demonstration appeared to begin with hundreds of students partaking in a walkout organized by the local Palestine Solidarity Committee, which responded to the arrests by accusing the university and Abbott of breaching students’ First Amendment rights.

“Through this unprecedented act of repression, they have made it explicitly clear: advocating against a genocide is criminal in Austin!” a spokesperson for the organization stated.

Zohaib “Zo” Qadri, an Austin City Council member, also slammed the police response to the student-led rallies, questioning why “such flagrant and wasteful show of force was authorized” and whether any protestors’ First Amendment rights were violated.

“This is Greg Abbott’s Texas — if you don’t fall in line with his agenda, your rights are violated,” he added in a prepared statement.

USC President Jay Hartzell defended the university’s approach, saying it stood firm and implemented its regulations while maintaining the constitutional right to free expression.

“Peaceful protests that follow our standards are permissible. “Breaking our rules and policies, as well as disrupting the ability of others to learn, are not permitted,” he stated. “The group that organized this demonstration said that it intended to break Institutional Rules. Our rules matter, and they will be followed. Our university will not be occupied.

He went on to say that persons who were not linked with USC had joined in the protest, which has been a recurring complaint raised by schools during their demonstrations. He claimed that many of them defied officials’ requests for restraint and to disperse.

“The University did as we said we would do in the face of prohibited actions,” he went on to say.

In California, an unspecified number of activists were arrested at USC after the protest led officials to close the university.

It was unknown how many arrests were made at USC, but the protest organizer, the USC Divest From Death Coalition, stated more than 50 people were held.

Dozens arrested at UT-Austin, USC amid Israel-Hamas protest crackdown in universities

The USC Divest From Death Coalition organized an occupation of USC’s Alumni Park beginning Wednesday morning, demanding that the university fully disclose and divest its finances and endowment from companies and institutions profiting from “Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation in Palestine,” including the US military, according to a press release.

Other requests included a full academic boycott of Israel and the release of a public statement asking for a cease-fire in Gaza, among others.

The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that arrests for trespassing would be made and that resources were on campus at USC’s request.

USC stated that the LAPD was cleaning the campus center, warning individuals who refused to disperse that they would face arrest.

The university previously stated that there was “significant activity” in the heart of campus due to a demonstration. The school gates had been closed, and pupils arriving on campus should be prepared to provide identification.

The arrests and demonstrations occur as several institutions face similar issues.

A number of protestors were arrested at New York University on Monday, and dozens more were detained at Yale University in Connecticut.

Last week, about 100 people were detained at Columbia University in Manhattan.


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