Live: Guns, other weapons were confiscated from pro-Palestinian protesters Monday, UT says (2024)

Seventy-nine people were arrested in connection to the pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Texas on Monday, according to the Travis County sheriff’s office.

Seventy-eight of those arrested were charged with criminal trespass, and one person received an additional charge of obstructing a highway or passageway, said Kristen Dark, sheriff's office public information officer. One person was also charged with interfering with public duties, Dark said.

Unlike last week, the University of Texas Police Department was not the lone arresting agency. Dark said the Austin Police Department is listed as the arresting agency for four protesters.

The 57 people arrested at last Wednesday's protest all faced criminal trespassing charges, though all of those charges were dropped.

Though dozens of people gathered at the campus's South Mall for a pro-Palestinian "teach-in" on Tuesday afternoon, the scene was far more peaceful than the protest the previous day.

Another protest is planned for Wednesday.

Live: Guns, other weapons were confiscated from pro-Palestinian protesters Monday, UT says (1)

UT says guns, other weapons were confiscated from protesters Monday

In a statement sent by UT spokesperson Brian Davis Tuesday evening, the university said weapons — including guns — were confiscated "from protesters" on Monday.

"To date, from protesters, weapons have been confiscated in the form of guns, buckets of large rocks, bricks, steel enforced wood planks, mallets, and chains," the statement read. "Staff have been physically assaulted and threatened, and police have been headbutted and hit with horse excrement, while their police cars have had tires slashed with knives."

Videos on social media showed police being rough with protesters, including by dragging them, and one video showed an officer repeatedly hitting someone.

The statement reiterated that the majority of people arrested Monday had no UT affiliation, which the university said confirmed its worry about the influence of outside groups.

"This is calculated, intentional and, we believe, orchestrated, and led by those outside our university community," the statement said.

The statement comes ahead of a protest planned by multiple groups at noon Wednesday on the lawn. Protesters have asserted and chanted that their intentions are peaceful, but the news of weapons follows the university's statement Monday that "baseball-size rocks" were found placed seemingly "strategically" at the protest.

The university declined to elaborate when asked how many weapons were found, when they were found and other questions.

— Lily Kepner

Protesters gradually released from Travis County Jail late Tuesday afternoon

By late afternoon, people who’d been arrested during Monday’s protest began to trickle out of the Travis County Jail as they were released.

Sam Law, a doctoral student at UT, felt relief when he was released around 5:30 p.m., he said.

“The University of Texas seemed to drag their feet bureaucratically as long as possible to make this as torturous a process as possible,” Law said.

When people were held in a larger cell, the spirits largely seemed high, with people singing, he said. After that, the arrested protesters were put in separate cells, he said.

Austin Community College student Zach Johnson also felt largely fine after he was released Tuesday evening but worried for some other people who said they had asthma or diabetes, he said. Those people weren’t given access to the medical care they needed, he said.

Johnson went to the UT campus Monday because of a speaker planned at the day’s event but then noticed people putting up tents and joined the protest, he said.

As protesters came out of the jail one by one, pro-Palestinian students waited in the plaza in front of the jail playing music, chatting and reading. Some of them ordered pizza. Every so often, they’d gather to chant, “One, two, three, four, open up the jail door.”

Student Citlali Soto-Ferate came to support fellow protesters, especially since she’d been arrested during protests at UT April 24. When she was waiting to be released, she felt better by hearing protesters chanting outside.

“I have to pay it forward,” Soto-Ferate said.

— Keri Heath

UT System board of regents chair says attempts to disrupt university operations ‘will not be tolerated’

In a statement released Tuesday, UT System board of regents Chairman Kevin P. Eltife said the recent protests have endangered students and the campus and bashed the involvement of “outside groups.”

“As I have previously stated, any attempt to shut down or disrupt UT operations will not be tolerated,” the statement read. “Massive crowds of students, along with outside groups with absolutely no connection to UT, have intentionally caused disturbances with plans to harm our campus community. In fact, the majority of arrests to date have occurred with agitators who are not UT students.”

Live: Guns, other weapons were confiscated from pro-Palestinian protesters Monday, UT says (2)

He said the right to free speech is “violated when it includes threats to campus safety and security or refusal to comply with institutional policies and law.”

Eltife said he has been working with UT President Jay Hartzell “on decisions to protect (UT’s) entire campus community.”

He said UT officials will continue to call upon the Texas Department of Public Safety for assistance on campus when needed.

“Moreover, we will make every effort to see that students who violate campus policies and outside individuals and groups that violate state law are fully prosecuted,” the statement said.

— Lily Kepner

Unlike last week, Travis County attorney's office has not found deficiencies in new protest-related cases

The process of working through the charges from Monday's protest is taking longer this time than it did last week because an initial review of new probable cause affidavits didn’t find deficiencies in the paperwork, Travis County Attorney Delia Garza said during a press conference Tuesday.

The influx of cases also has been a challenge for the office to slog through, she said.

“This large volume at one time has delayed our normal, everyday processes,” Garza said. “It takes time on a normal day, not to mention the volume we’re seeing now.”

Live: Guns, other weapons were confiscated from pro-Palestinian protesters Monday, UT says (3)

Normally, processing people charged with low-level crimes through the Travis County Jail wouldn’t take very long, she said. Those affidavits are required for someone to be released from jail so a magistrate judge can determine how to proceed with setting bond or if charges will be pursued.

Garza said Tuesday her office is working closely with other local agencies to get people who were arrested Monday processed through the jail as quickly as possible. The processing of charges this week differs from how UT police handled the process last week, when lawyers said the department essentially "copied and pasted" each affidavit.

Garza's office dismissed those charges because of deficiencies, she said.

Garza also slammed university administration’s response and called on college officials and protest organizers to have a conversation about how to move forward.

“Cycling people in and out of jail on low-level charges, limiting our criminal justice resources for the rest of our community will do very little to maintain public safety,” Garza said.

— Keri Heath

Felony charge against FOX 7 Austin photojournalist dropped

A felony charge brought against FOX 7 Austin photojournalist Carlos Sanchez, who was arrested while covering last Wednesday's protest at UT, has been dropped.

Sanchez was initially charged with criminal trespass. Travis County Attorney Delia Garza eventually declined all 57 criminal trespassing charges connected with Wednesday's protest.

Live: Guns, other weapons were confiscated from pro-Palestinian protesters Monday, UT says (4)

On April 26, Justin Winkler, an agent at the Texas Department of Public Safety, filed an arrest warrant for Sanchez on a charge of assault on a peace officer, a felony.

Gerry Morris, Sanchez's defense lawyer, told the American-Statesman that the DPS detective in the case withdrew the warrant after acknowledging it did not allege a felony crime, but the officer could resubmit it later.

— Serena Lin

UT Student Government condemns hate speech, 'aggressive response' to last week's protest

UT Student Government leaders released a statement around 1 p.m. about last Wednesday's protest, condemning antisemitic and Islamophobic hate speech but saying the "aggressive response" to the protest was dangerous.

"We urge that in an effort to avoid the violence and disruption that has ensued, University administration will prioritize promoting our safety, our voices, and our autonomy, over the fabricated sense of peace they attempt to facilitate on campus through force," the statement from the Student Government Executive Board and Assembly Board read.

"The excessive use of force against our fellow students and UT-affiliated individuals caused direct, physical harm to our peers and constitutes an attack on our right to freedom of speech."

The statement said administrators have failed to create a safe place for all students and urged UT to "equally represent the wide range of ideologies that are invaluable to our community."

— Lily Kepner

Dozens attend pro-Palestinian discussion at UT on Tuesday afternoon; event not expected to turn into encampment

Dozens of people gathered at the University of Texas South Mall on Tuesday for a "teach-in" about Palestine.

Ammer Qaddumi, a member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee and third-year UT student, said the teach-in was expected to go into the evening and not turn into an encampment.

Qaddumi said the purpose of the teach-in was to "recenter the focus" of the protests.

"It's not provocation for the sake of provocation," Qaddumi said. "We're not doing protest for the sake of protest. We're doing protests for ... the people in Palestine."

Live: Guns, other weapons were confiscated from pro-Palestinian protesters Monday, UT says (6)

UT spokesperson Brian Davis said the university will be monitoring the situation Tuesday.

UT police put up barricades blocking the steps to the UT Tower, and a handful of university police could be seen nearby with zip ties on their persons.

Tuesday's teach-in was a stark contrast to Monday's encampment and protests that led to officers pepper-spraying students and the arrests of 79 people.

Two professors, Karma Chávez and Pavithra Vasudevan, led the teach-in for about an hour and finished right before 2:30 p.m.

Less than a dozen counterprotesters, some wearing the Israeli flag, gathered around the group and at times would ask rhetorical questions, such as whether Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Zachary Smith, a freshman at UT and member of Longhorns for Israel, said he's come out to counter each of the protests and denounce antisemitism.

"We're really just here to show our support for Israel (and) show that we're proud and not afraid to be Jewish and stand for what we believe in," Smith said.

At times, the two groups briefly argued, but overall, tensions were low and things remained peaceful.

Students remained sitting on the lawn of the South Mall after the professors left.

— Skye Seipp

As Tuesday afternoon rolls around, friends of those arrested still waiting at jail

By afternoon Tuesday, the protesters sat cross-legged on the plaza or in lawn chairs on the grass slope in front of the Travis County Jail.

Many students chatted, ate lunch or read books.

Marc Tost, a UT student, lounged under a tree while he waited for his friend, who had been arrested during Monday's protest, to be released from jail.

“He knew this was a likely outcome,” Tost, who did not attend the protest, said of his friend.

Live: Guns, other weapons were confiscated from pro-Palestinian protesters Monday, UT says (8)

Jules Lattimore and Jake Hoztman also waited in the shade Tuesday afternoon. They’d both gone home after Monday’s protest but come back to the jail Tuesday morning to wait for their friend’s release.

Getting information about when their friend might get released had been challenging, they said.

Lattimore worried about arrested students facing harassment for wearing religious clothing and hoped everyone was getting the water or medical treatment they needed, he said.

However, Hotzman was glad to see students speaking their mind.

“I’m personally very inspired and optimistic to see how much the community has shown up,” Hotzman said.

— Keri Heath

'Free Palestine':AISD high school students stage walk out to protest Israel-Hamas war

More than half of people arrested Monday were not UT students, per university spokesperson

Thirty-four of 79 people arrested in Monday's protest were students, while the rest — more than half of the total — were not affiliated with UT, university spokesperson Mike Rosen said Tuesday.

— Lily Kepner

People wait for arrested protesters to be released from Travis County Jail

More than 50 people gathered at Travis County Jail Tuesday morning, waiting for the protesters to be released.

With coffee, water bottles, pickles, doughnuts and each other, supporters gathered on tarps, yoga mats and benches. They stretched and chatted, waiting for information about those who have arrested.

William Sorenson, a UT second-year student, was arrested last Wednesday at the protests. On Tuesday morning, he was waiting for his friend to be released. He had been since 10:30 p.m. Monday.

“We plan to stay here until she’s out,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson walked to the protest after class on Monday. He stood in the shade as an observer but saw his friend.

“It was surreal to see it all happen again,” he said.

Sorenson said he is “dismayed” by the use of force on campus and inspired by the protesters, who he said had peaceful intentions.

“It was chaotic — it may as well have been a riot — but it was not instigated by the protesters, and there is a clear trend of that,” he said about the police involvement.

At 10:45 a.m., protesters had drums and were chanting, “Free Palestine,” outside the jail.

— Lily Kepner

Affidavits for arrested protesters this week differ from 'copied and pasted' affidavits last week

Attorneys were told Monday night that probable cause affidavits for those arrested wouldn't be sent in until Tuesday. This differs from how UT police handled the process last week, when lawyers said the department essentially "copied and pasted" each affidavit. That resulted in all of the charges being declined by the Travis County attorney's office, which handles misdemeanor cases and is led by Delia Garza.

Those affidavits are required for someone to be released from jail so a magistrate judge can determine how to proceed with setting bond or if charges will be pursued.

As of 8:15 a.m., Dark said none of those arrested had yet seen a magistrate judge. George Lobb, an attorney with the Austin Lawyers Guild, said the first probable cause affidavits were sent in at about 8:45 a.m.

A probable cause affidavit shared with the American-Statesman concerning Monday's protest shows that officers put more detail into the affidavit. Details about the officers giving dispersal orders and how the protesters failed to comply are explained in the affidavit, in contrast to the affidavits last week, most of which only said the arrested person was "given notice to disperse from property and failed to do so."

Garza told the Statesman last week that there was "insufficient probable cause" to pursue charges against the protesters who were arrested Wednesday. In reference to the charges filed against those arrested Monday, Garza said her office will "provide an update ... when we know more."

— Skye Seipp

Live: Guns, other weapons were confiscated from pro-Palestinian protesters Monday, UT says (2024)


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