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Charges dropped against 79 people from April 29 pro-Palestinian protests at UT Austin

Demonstrators protest Israel's war in Gaza on the UT Austin campus on April 29. The Texas State Capitol Building is seen in the background while lines of police and lines of protesters are seen on a crowded lawn on the University of Texas at Austin campus.
Patricia Lim
KUT News
Seventy-nine people were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing during the April 29 pro-Palestinian protests on the UT Austin campus.

More charges have been dropped against people who were arrested at pro-Palestinian protests on the UT Austin campus in April.

This is the second round of cases dismissed against people who participated in the April demonstrations.

Travis County Attorney Delia Garza announced the news on Wednesday. She said her office received 79 cases for criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, related to the April 29 protests.

She said all those cases will be dismissed, but she made it clear that the dismissed cases are specifically for people who were charged with criminal trespassing on UT's South Lawn on April 29.

"We had a team of prosecutors spend approximately 90 hours evaluating these cases," Garza said. "We reviewed the evidence and the law, and considered many factors including the legitimate concerns of violations of free speech."

She said prosecutors determined that they did not have enough evidence to convict.

Reacting to the announcement from Garza, University of Texas officials said they were "disappointed" with the outcome.

"We respect the law and are deeply disappointed by the County Attorney’s actions," Mike Rosen, a spokesperson for UT Austin, said in an emailed statement. "The University will continue to use the law enforcement and administrative tools at our disposal to maintain safety and operational continuity for our 53,000 students who come to campus to learn, regardless of whether the criminal justice system shares this commitment."

The demonstrations were part of a wave of protests across the nation over Israel's war in Gaza. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered over several days on the UT Austin campus in support of Palestinians and demanded a ceasefire in Gaza.

During the April 29 protest, around 100 people gathered on the South Lawn of UT Austin’s campus, setting up tents and blankets to begin an encampment. They also used folding tables to barricade themselves.

Officers from the UT Police Department, the Austin Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety were on scene during the demonstrations. The state troopers wore face shields and carried batons and zip ties. They stood arm in arm to create a physical barrier between the UT tower and the lawn.

Protesters stood with linked arms on the lawn. Police pulled them apart and arrested dozens of people, including UT students.

Garza already dismissed charges against 46 people who were arrested on April 24 because there wasn’t enough probable cause. The April 29 arrests did not have similar deficiencies, Garza said previously, and added that her office would need more time to review them.

Hanna Barakat, a local musician who was arrested and charged on April 29 for criminal trespassing, said the announcement is a relief, but the work is not over.

"I am grateful that in this instance that our constitution was upheld and people were allowed to use their voice," Barakat said. "But there are other people who were arrested on April 29 and until everyone has gone through the system, and until all their charges are dropped, we are not finished."

It was not clear what other cases were filed, but Garza said her office was reviewing them and would make a decision soon.

Garza said while these charges have been dismissed, it does not diminish the police work.

"While I may not agree with law enforcement tactics, they are important partners we work with daily to ensure the safety of this community," Garza said.

Correction: A previous version of this story said prosecutors could not find probable cause. In fact, prosecutors said they could not prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning they did not feel there was enough evidence to convict.

Luz Moreno-Lozano is the Austin City Hall reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @LuzMorenoLozano.
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