All 79 protesters arrested at UT Austin on Monday have been released from jail

UT confirmed that 34 of the 79 people arrested were students, while the rest were not affiliated with the university.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated at least 100 people were arrested Monday. This article has been updated to reflect the most recent information.

Nearly 80 demonstrators were arrested during pro-Palestinian, anti-war protests on the University of Texas at Austin campus Monday. As of Wednesday afternoon, all have been released from jail.

“They put my hands behind my back, the knee on my back, kind of got muddy. And then they told me to stand up and walked out,” Marea Warren-Hernandez, one of the protestors arrested, said.

According to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO), the University of Texas Police Department (UTPD) arrested 75 protestors Monday and the Austin Police Department (APD) arrested four, for a total of 79. UT confirmed that 34 of the 79 were students, while the rest were not affiliated with the university.

All but one of those arrested have been charged with criminal trespass. One of the 78 has also been charged with obstructing a highway or passageway. Only one person has been charged with interfering with public duties.

On Tuesday morning, groups gathered in front of the Travis County Jail to wait for the possible release of those who are behind bars.

“Having all of these people here at the jail gives the inmates hope, first of all,” Michael Rice said. “And second of all, it shows that the protest isn’t just a one-day thing. It isn’t just something that’ll die down or simmer out. It’s something that continues to stand. It’s a problem that continues to plague our nation, and we won’t stop.”

Last week, Rice’s girlfriend was one of more than 50 demonstrators who were taken into custody Wednesday during the first day of protests.

Bradley Hargis is the executive director of Capital Area Private Defender Service and is helping coordinate the legal process for those arrested. He said a magistrate judge has reviewed all of the probable cause affidavits and, unlike the last arrests, there were no deficiencies found in the paperwork, so the charges will stick this time. He said his clients are moving towards bonds.

Elaine Cohen waited outside the jail on Tuesday. She said she hopes these protests raise awareness.

“Make people be aware of what’s going on and also for people to be able to say, ‘Oh, I was there when they were trying to destroy Palestine again, and I didn’t just sit home and watch the TV,'” Cohen said.

The scenes coming from the protests have been chaotic, but Palestinian-American students like Adam, who has chosen to protect his last name, said they have remained peaceful on their end.

“Today, we had a Palestine 101. We taught people about, you know, the history of Palestine before occupation,” Adam said.

Students like Zach Bernstein, who is standing in support of Israel, say they have similar goals.

“What hurts me the most is that, like, the two sides can never talk to each other and [it] seems like we never can really get anywhere, make any progress,” Bernstein said.

He noted that the release of hostages is No. 1 for them and they advocate for overall peace.

“I’m totally down for a two-state solution. And we just want peace in the Middle East. And for the Jews to have a safe place to call home,” Bernstein said.

Warren-Hernandez said when it comes to the protests, she’s seen it every day, saying there was no escalation on their end.

“I haven’t seen anything that resembled violence. No plans that resemble that. It’s always been about peacefully protesting and making a point to not do anything that could be considered that,” Warren-Hernandez said.

On Tuesday evening, Kevin Eltife, the chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents, released the following statement in response to the protests and arrests:

“As I have previously stated, any attempt to shut down or disrupt UT operations will not be tolerated.  There is no rationale whatsoever that justifies the endangerment of our students and campus environments. 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. These activities will not be allowed.

While free speech is fundamental to our educational institutions, it is violated when it includes threats to campus safety and security or refusal to comply with institutional policies and law.  At UT Austin, I have been working closely with President Hartzell on decisions to protect its entire campus community, and we will not acquiesce on those protections under any circumstance.

I appreciate our campus police officers and we cannot thank the Texas Department of Public Safety enough for all their assistance. We will continue to call upon the DPS to secure our 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.

Nothing is more important than the safety of our students, and we will not hesitate again to use all resources available to us to keep them safe and our UT campuses open.”

The university also wrote quote, “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. This is calculated, intentional and, we believe, orchestrated and led by those outside our University community.”

At 1:41 p.m. Wednesday, the TCSO reported that all 79 protesters arrested Monday had been released from jail.

More on Monday’s protests

These most recent arrests come after the fourth day of protests on UT Austin’s campus. Many demonstrators set up tent encampments Monday afternoon on the university’s South Mall Lawn.

Members of the Austin Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers responded to the protests with flash bangs and pepper spray, in an attempt to break up gathering crowds.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott posted to X, stating, “No encampments will be allowed. Instead, arrests are being made.” 

Some protesters attempted to block police from making arrests, shouting, “We don’t want you here” and more.

The university released a statement in response to Monday’s arrests, which said in part, “Because of the encampments and other violations of the University’s Institutional Rules related to protests, protestors were told repeatedly to disperse, When they refused to disperse, some arrests were made for trespassing. Others were arrested for disorderly conduct.”

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