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Abbott Under Fire From Republicans and Democrats For Handling Of UT-Austin Protest

Gov. Greg Abbot is under heavy criticism after state troopers arrested more than 50 people on the UT-Austin campus Wednesday during a peaceful pro-Palestinian protest.

Last Wednesday, up to 100 state troopers in riot gear – including some on horseback – were called in by the governor and UT President Jay Hartzell to disrupt the protest and keep the peace by “arresting anyone in any sort of criminal activity.”

Since then, students, Democrats, and even Republicans and conservative activists have criticized Abbott for his response, calling it aggressive and a move made just for political gain.

“Arrests being made right now & will continue until the crowd disperses,” wrote Abbott on Twitter/X. “These protesters belong in jail. Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period.”

Some people noted that anti-Semitism is actually tolerated in Texas, as last December, Texas GOP leaders voted against a proposed ban on associating with Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust deniers.

State troopers arrested 57 people, and now prosecutors have dropped charges against 46 of them, citing “deficiencies” in their arrest affidavits. Students and teachers at the UT-Austin have criticized Abbott’s response for trying to militarize the campus.

“Gov. Abbott is taking a very political opportunity to enforce his agenda, a very right-wing agenda focused on control, not on governance,” Chelsea Collier, a doctoral student at the school of information at UT told the Washington Post.

In 2019, Abbott signed a law aimed at protecting free speech on college campuses by guaranteeing that anyone can protest in common areas as long as they don’t break the law, and some people reminded the governor of that law.

More interestingly, Republicans and conservatives have also criticized Abbott for violating the First Amendment, by arresting people protesting. Justin Amash, a former Michigan congressman and now a Republican Senate candidate said that if Abbott is “arresting them for their speech, then he’s violating the law, and his actions threaten everyone in the state, including everyone he claims to be protecting.”

Other conservative activists criticized Abbott for sending more troops at the university that he is sending to the border.

Abbott has been targeting public education lately, as he recently signed a law banning offices of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at public colleges and universities in the state, and he said he will work with lawmakers to make stricter restrictions in the next legislative session.

Written by RA News staff.


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