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Travis County DA drops charges against 79 UT protesters

Travis County Attorney Delia Garza announced this week that 79 cases involving criminal trespass that occurred during pro-Palestine protests on the University of Texas (UT) at Austin campus would be dismissed.

Garza explained that her office spent 90 hours evaluating the cases and determined that they “cannot meet our legal burden to prove these 79 criminal trespass cases beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The cases in question concern individuals who were charged during the April 29 protest on the UT campus.

“I may not always agree with law enforcement tactics; they are important partners who we work with dually to ensure the safety of this community,” Garza added.

“Just as they make discretionary decisions every day on whether to make an arrest or not, we make discretionary decisions every day on whether to proceed with prosecution.”

Garza added, “This is how the system is supposed to work.”

“Our decision today is based on the circumstances and evidence and our determination that we cannot meet our legal burden, and that should in no way diminish the work they do on the street and the sacrifices they and their families make for all of us.”

In response to a question from the press, Garza said, “I wish our state leadership and even the university leadership had… I think there could have been another solution to allow these students to voice what they felt like they needed to voice.”

Following the announcement of the cases being dismissed, UT Austin released a statement expressing they are “deeply disappointed by the County Attorney’s actions.”

“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. Free speech is welcome on our campus. Violating laws or rules is not. Actions that violate laws and Institutional Rules should be met with consequences, not with political posturing and press conferences.”

The UT Austin pro-Palestine protests garnered national attention as they continued through the months of April and May due to the clash between protesters and law enforcement.

In the midst of the campus protests, Gov. Greg Abbott was supportive of law enforcement actions and wrote regarding the protesters, “Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period.”

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