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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Kari Paul and agencies

Fox journalist among dozens arrested at Texas university as protests swell

Police officer arrests man wearing scarf and sunglasses
University of Texas police officers arrest a man at a pro-Palestinian protest on campus on Wednesday. Photograph: Jay Janner/AP

At least 20 people were arrested, including a photojournalist, as police and demonstrators violently clashed at the University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday.

Hundreds of students walked out of class to protest against the conflict in Gaza and demand the university divest from companies that manufacture machinery used in Israel’s war efforts, carrying signs and chanting.

Dozens of local and state police – including some on horseback and holding batons – formed a line to stop protesters from marching through campus. Officers pushed them off the campus lawn and at one point sent people tumbling into the street.

According to local reporter Ryan Chandler, police ordered demonstrators to disperse via an audio announcement that could be heard across campus: “I command you in the name of the people of the state of Texas to disperse.”

A photographer covering the demonstration for Fox 7 Austin was arrested after being caught in a scuffle between law enforcement and students, the station said. Footage posted on social media showed the journalist being knocked down by officers. The network confirmed in its own reporting that their photographer was taken to jail.

At least 20 demonstrators were taken into custody at the request of university officials and the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, according to the state department of public safety. Abbott said protesters “belonged in jail”.

“Students joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled,” the governor said in a statement on X.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, police tangled with student demonstrators at the University of Southern California, where officers got into a back-and-forth tugging match with protesters over tents, removing several before falling back.

And in northern California, students were barricaded inside a building for a third day at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt. The school shut down campus through the weekend and made classes virtual.

Students protesting against the Israel-Gaza war are demanding that their schools sever financial ties to Israel and companies involved in the conflict. Dozens of people have been arrested in the past week at multiple campuses across the US and have been charged with trespassing or disorderly conduct. Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus.

Tensions escalated last week when police tried to clear a major encampment at Columbia, and arrested more than 100 protesters. The move backfired, acting as an inspiration for a wave of similar encampments and motivating protesters at Columbia to regroup.

On Wednesday, about 60 tents remained at the Columbia encampment, which appeared calm. Security remained tight around campus, with identification required and police setting up metal barricades.

A spokesperson said rumors that the university had threatened to bring in the national guard were unfounded.

“Our focus is to restore order, and if we can get there through dialogue, we will,” said Ben Chang, Columbia’s vice-president for communications.

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