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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

OPINION: UT’s recent student-led protest proves force is a common Texan tool for control

Zemira Recio / Hilltop Views
On Wed. April 24, police officers and Texas state troopers were released on the University of Texas’ Austin campus in response to the protests being hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Committee. Police on motorcycles and horses were seen on the campus attempting to disrupt the protest, an action that resulted in the arrest of at least 50 individuals.

At the University of Texas at Austin (UT), students of the University’s Palestine Solidarity Committee hosted a peaceful protest which was programmed to feature walk-outs, sit-ins and teach-ins. This protest was met with a military response composed of Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers and university police. Even though the arrest of 54 protestors is quite shocking, the use of excessive force by the Texas government is nothing new.

Instead of creating institutional change, Texas consistently fights back against the pressures by releasing the hounds, so to speak. Texas’ dedication to upholding the status quo has led them to do anything, including harming Texans, to continue doing nothing. Texans must ignore the pushback presented by the state’s government and other institutions and put pressure by protesting and contacting our legislators to create the change we want to see; if not, the continual use of force will turn Texas into something of a military state.

The Texas DPS Troopers are trained in “interdicting public safety threats” in which they are meant to protect the “community from violence and property destruction,” but they are routinely used by the Texas government as a tool for suppression. A parallel can be seen between the government’s release of state troopers on university protests and Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, as both feature unnecessary militarization. 

Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in 2021 as a combative measure to President Biden’s border policies. In Abbott’s opinion, the policies of Biden have remained “reckless” and have failed to secure the Texas-Mexico border in terms of immigration and drug trafficking. 

However, Abbott has manufactured his own border procedure as a way to instill fear in potential immigrants and Texas citizens. According to the Pew Research Center rates of illegal immigration in Texas have remained primarily stable even before the implementation of Operation Lone Star, oscillating around 1.6 million

It is true that illegal immigration and cartel involvement are problems in Texas and the United States, but Texas’ only response is to push stricter policies and raise our guns. The creation of legislation like Senate Bill 4 and Operation Lone Star fail to adequately address problems of immigration and push immigrants to pursue more dangerous options to migrate. In a similar way, the arrest of students at UT has done little to address any of the issues brought up by students which caused the protest, such as divesting from Israel.

UT has missed their chance to have a conversation with students protesting their connection to Israel, and has now set themselves in line with the Texas government. On the front page of their website, The University of Texas boasts “what starts here changes the world,” yet they have now deliberately silenced student voices trying to make a change. The university claims that the deployment of state troopers and police at the protest was due to the unauthorized and disruptive nature of its actions; looking at the Texas Education Code Sec 37.123, the occupation of a lawn does not seem to fall under any of these stipulations.

UT’s administration, like the Texas government, is afraid of being held accountable and has resorted to militarization as their answer to subside protestors. Ultimately, this use of force only pushes toward more turmoil and agitations. People in power, even those with only a small amount, often use force as a method of control. 

I fear that the response to the protests held on the UT’s campus will dispel individuals from getting involved in the future. It is important not to be dissuaded by counteraction from authorities, as the use of persistent pressure is the only way to force action from those so opposed to taking any steps toward progress. To stop the cycle of violence propounded by the Texas government, we must remind our legislators that we will not allow them to continue using such tactics and that we will keep pushing back regardless.

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About the Contributor
Tate Burchfield
Tate Burchfield, Staff Writer
Tate Burchfield is a first year student on the hilltop, and this is his first year writing for Hilltop Views. He is interested in politics and the arts. He is from Galveston, Texas and is excited to spend his time in Austin with Hilltop Views.

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  • V

    Veritas SupremeApr 29, 2024 at 8:30 am

    Peaceful protest should always be protected but when such protests involve the disruption and interference of the rights of others, such as blockades and harassment, it is the DUTY of government to intercede. The author here is intentionally silent on where UT anti Israel protesters crossed the line.

    • J

      Just One VictoryApr 29, 2024 at 7:48 pm

      There have been no disruptions to classes, blockades or harassment, save for the harassment of the protesters by police.