Abbott says pro-Palestine protesters at UT Austin ‘belong in jail’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said the pro-Palestine protesters on the University of Texas at Austin campus “belong in jail” and that arrests were being made.

“Arrests being made right now & will continue until the crowd disperses. These protesters belong in jail,” Abbott posted on the social platform X.

Texas state police detained at least four protesters Wednesday on the UT Austin campus after hundreds of students walked out of classes and began a sit-in to support civilians in Gaza.

The university had prepared for the protests that began midday, with the office of student affairs sending out a statement that warned students there would be consequences for participating in the protest.

Abbott said students who join the “hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled.”

It was not immediately clear if there had been antisemitic chants at the University of Texas demonstrations.

The UT Austin protests mirror protests on numerous other college campuses. Tensions have risen in New York City, where more than 100 students have been arrested at Columbia University for setting up encampments on school property and protesting.

Campus protests around the country have often included Jewish students, some of whom have pushed back on suggestions of antisemitism. Videos taken near Columbia University in New York show Jewish students being told to go back to Poland and include pro-Hamas chants. But some of those instances also have been blamed on nonstudent demonstrators.

Students are angry about their First Amendment right to peacefully protest being taken away by university officials. In 2019, Abbott signed a bill that would protect free speech on college campuses in Texas.

“Shouldn’t have to do it. First Amendment guarantees it,” he said in a video after he signed the bill. “Now, it’s law in Texas.”

The Hill has reached out to Abbott’s office for further comment.

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