Texas DPS radio traffic captures clash between law enforcement and protesters on UT campus

Texas DPS radio traffic captures clash between law enforcement and protesters on UT campus

Editor’s Note: The above video contains all the radio traffic records from April 24 that KXAN obtained through a public information request to Texas DPS. The photos do not directly correspond with the audio.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Radio traffic from the Texas Department of Public Safety captured the clash between law enforcement and Pro-Palestinian protesters on the University of Texas campus on April 24. The day marked the first of several days of demonstrations and, ultimately, over 100 arrests.

KXAN investigators obtained recordings of the radio traffic through a public information request to DPS. The recordings were broken up into more than 150 audio files and document various moments from the confrontation that day, including law enforcement units arriving on scene, using crowd-control tactics and detaining protesters.

TIMELINE: Protests on the Univeristy of Texas campus

“An announcement has been made for criminal trespass and they are about to start making arrests,” an individual could be heard saying in one part of the recording.

Chants were audible in the background of another recording, where someone said, “UTPD has begun making arrests, just trying to keep the crowd at bay.”

In a statement at the time, DPS said it responded to the campus “at the request of the University and at the direction of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in order to prevent any unlawful assembly and to support UT Police in maintaining the peace by arresting anyone engaging in any sort of criminal activity, including criminal trespass.” In total, 115 DPS personnel responded on April 24.

A total of 57 people were booked into the Travis County Jail that day but a spokesperson for the Travis County Attorney later said it found issues with the probable cause affidavits for those cases and many of the individuals were released the following morning. According to court records, the UT police department appeared to be the arresting agency.

The radio traffic indicates law enforcement were particularly concerned with the potential of demonstrators putting put up tents or encampments on the South Mall on campus.

In one recording, an individual can be heard saying they should hold off for 15 minutes, but referencing how law enforcement would respond if demonstrators started setting up tents or camps.

The April 24 protest at UT Austin happened nearly a week after students at Colombia University staged what was called the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on the New York city campus. Students there were arrested as police attempted to clear out the encampments.

Several other universities saw similar clashes in the days that followed.

In a statement released on April 25, UT President Jay Hartzell said, in part, “The University’s decision to not allow yesterday’s event to go as planned was made because we had credible indications that the event’s organizers, whether national or local, were trying to follow the pattern we see elsewhere, using the apparatus of free speech and expression to severely disrupt a campus for a long period.”

The recordings document some of the movements of mounted patrol, as well as the dispersal order that was read over campus loudspeakers and the moments law enforcement pushed a crowd of protesters to the edge of campus, near Guadalupe Street.

The files obtained through the records request do not appear to contain the moments the first DPS personnel arrived on campus earlier that day or mention the arrest of a local photojournalist with Fox 7.

Since April 24, the UT campus has been the site of several other protests, and more protesters were arrested on April 29. Dozens of those cases are still active.

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