All criminal trespassing charges dropped against anti-Israel UT Austin protesters

All criminal trespassing charges dropped against anti-Israel UT Austin protesters

World News


Prosecutors in Texas have dropped criminal trespassing charges against nearly 80 anti-Israel agitators who demonstrated on the University of Texas at Austin campus in April during the height of the college campus protests, with UT Austin leaders slamming the decision. 

Travis County Attorney Delia Garza announced that all 79 people who were arrested on April 29 had their charges thrown out. At an earlier protest at the campus, 56 arrests were made with criminal trespass charges dropped the following day. 

The news comes after dozens of anti-Israel protesters who occupied and barricaded themselves in buildings on the Columbia University campus in April had their charges dropped last week.

“After examining and weighing all the evidence presented, we have determined that we cannot meet our legal burden to prove these 79 criminal trespass cases beyond reasonable doubt, and they will be dismissed,” Garza said, according to Fox 7.

UT AUSTIN PROTESTS DESCEND INTO CHAOS, ANTI-ISRAEL STUDENTS YELL AT POLICE: ‘PIGS GO HOME!’

University of Texas police officers arrest a man on the campus. (Jay Janner/American-Statesman)

“At the time, I voiced my concerns about the large volume of arrests on the low-level non-violent charge,” Garza said. 

Garza said a team of prosecutors spent 90 hours evaluating each case before a decision was made. She said her team reviewed evidence including body camera footage and hundreds of pages of offense reports, the law and concerns about violations of constitutionally protected rights of free speech.

“We also have the responsibility to determine if pursuing any case is in the interest of justice, in the interest of public safety, and aligns with the values of this community,” Garza said.

UT Austin released a statement expressing the institution’s dissatisfaction with the decision. 

GUNS CONFISCATED FROM ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTERS AT UT AUSTIN, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA

“We respect the law and are deeply disappointed by the County Attorney’s actions,” the statement reads, per Fox 11.

“The University will continue to use the law enforcement and administrative tools at our disposal to maintain safety and operational continuity for our 53,000 students who come to campus to learn, regardless of whether the criminal justice system shares this commitment. Free speech is welcome on our campus.”

“Violating laws or rules is not. Actions that violate laws and institutional rules should be met with consequences, not with political posturing and press conferences.” 

The dismissals only apply to criminal trespassing cases, and UT police also charged a man who they say illegally carried a loaded gun on campus during the protest. Two additional charges from the protest for obstructing a highway or passageway and interfering with public duty are still pending, according to the Austin-American Statesman. 

A professor was also arrested by the Texas Department of Public Safety for allegedly grabbing a trooper’s bike and yelling expletives. The professor was subsequently fired by the university, the publication reported. 

Protesters at the demonstration were heard chanting “Pigs go home!” at the Texas law enforcement officers on the scene. The keffiyeh-wearing protesters attempted to set up tents similar to other campuses. 

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Police on horses at UT Austin

Dozens of arrests were made at anti-Israel protests at UT Austin. (KTBC)

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, denounced the protests at the time as lawless and antisemitic.

“These protesters belong in jail,” Abbott wrote. “Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period. Students joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled.”

Fox News’ Lawrence Richard, Andrea Vacchiano and Bryan Preston contributed to this report.



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