Texas Student Protesters To State Police: 'Who Failed Uvalde?'

A University of Texas student is arrested Monday during a protest against Israel's attacks on Gaza. Students at the Austin campus walked out of class and gathered in protest while students and professors at other colleges across the country also showed support for Palestinian civilians in the war zone.

Students at the University of Texas at Austin on Monday took a dig at state troopers who’d arrived to arrest them as they protested the war in Gaza.

“Who failed Uvalde? DPS!” the students, who began their protest on the campus last week, chanted at Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.

More than 90 DPS troopers were among the officers from several law enforcement agencies who responded to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022, when 19 students and two teachers were killed by a lone gunman. Nearly 400 law enforcement officers in total stood by at the school for 77 minutes before the shooter was confronted. The confused response, which may have contributed to the death toll, has led to multiple investigations into the actions of law enforcement that day.

Through their chants, student protesters pointed out the irony that DPS is leading an armed response at a peaceful protest on the UT campus but had failed to act during the carnage at Robb Elementary.

Some DPS officers have faced consequences for their inaction that day, including Juan Maldonado, one of the first state troopers to arrive at the elementary school. He was fired from DPS in October 2022. Trooper Crimson Elizondo was caught on bodycam footage saying that if her son were in the school, she would go in there. Elizondo left the DPS and was hired by Uvalde’s school district after the shooting, but she was fired when the bodycam footage was made public. 

Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son, Uziyah, was killed in the Uvalde mass shooting, pointed out the irony on social media last week, writing that the student protesters “ain’t wrong.”

Student protesters, who are demanding that UT divest itself from any funding tied to Israel, also chanted at police: “Why are you in riot gear? I don’t see a riot here,” “We are being peaceful. You are being violent,” “Hands off our students,” and other chants.  State troopers arrested at least 40 student protesters on Monday, according to the Texas Tribune. Officers also deployed tear gas on protesters.

In a statement to HuffPost, UT said that because protesters have ignored directions from the university’s administration and from law enforcement officers to remove their encampments, “UT and partner law enforcement agencies dismantled an encampment and arrested several protesters.”

“Baseball size rocks were found strategically placed within the encampment,” part of the statement says. “The majority of protesters are believed to be unaffiliated with the university.”

The statement also says that the university received “extensive online threats” from a group organizing Monday’s protest.

Last week, UT students and professors joined several other universities across the nation in walking out of class in protest, but the Texas protesters were immediately met by law enforcement, including state troopers. DPS said it responded to the protest at the request of the university and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. DPS said it made 34 arrests on Wednesday. According to the Austin American-Statesman, more than 50 people were arrested on Wednesday.

UT suspended the Palestine Solidarity Committee last week for allegedly violating university rules by hosting a protest in support of Palestinian civilians.

The Austin Police Department told HuffPost on Monday that it is assisting UT’s campus police and DPS “in relation to the incident on their campus after a request was made by UTPD.”

UTPD and DPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abbott wrote Monday on social media that “no encampments will be allowed. Instead, arrests are being made.”