19 arrested as chaos erupts at UTD
Students for Justice in Palestine organized and erected an encampment at the University of Texas at Dallas Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Photo: Submitted

Police dismantle encampment erected by anti-Israel protesters

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
May 1, 2024

Pro-Palestinian students erected an encampment at Chess Plaza on The University of Texas at Dallas campus around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Throughout the day, hundreds of anti-Israel protesters assembled as the afternoon wore on, demanding that UTD divest from five defense contractors — Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Boeing — who do business with Israel. The protest was organized by the UTD chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

The students set up a barrier to their encampment with a large sign that said “Welcome to Gaza Liberation Plaza.” Their Instagram post announcing the encampment has garnered more than 16,000 likes. The barrier blocked the sidewalks of the plaza.

Wednesday afternoon, the protesters were told they were trespassing and would have to disband. What ensued was several hours of mayhem with the Richardson Police Department’s SWAT, Richardson Mobile Field Force, Collin County Sheriff’s Department officers and Department of Public Safety officers. They had been warned in advance, in writing, that encampments were not going to be tolerated by the UTD administration.

At least 19 people were arrested and taken to the Collin County Jail for misdemeanor trespassing, according to the Collin County Sheriff’s office.

By 6 p.m., the encampment had been dismantled by law enforcement.

The protesters moved near the student union and continued to encourage others to join them there.

Multiple news outlets were on the scene and interviewed many anti-Israel protesters. One of them remarked that there is only one side to the story and “From the river to the sea, Palestine would be free.” She said that the students only felt emboldened and their intention was to continue to press the UTD administration to divest.

Since the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7 and the subsequent war between Israel and Hamas, tensions have been high at UTD.
Photo: Submitted

The Jewish students on campus have felt threatened by the overwhelming number of anti-Israel students.

Hillels of North Texas officials could not be reached for immediate comment. In response to protests held last week at UTD, Gil Sadka, Hillels of North Texas board chair, released the following statement to the TJP, April 29:

“Our top priority is the physical and emotional safety of our Jewish students — first, foremost, and always. Hillels of North Texas has been in close communication with our local community partners, including Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, ADL Texoma, and AJC Dallas, and Hillel International to help ensure the safety and security of our campus Jewish communities at the University of North Texas and the University of Texas, Dallas.

“After anti-Israel and antisemitic protests at UTD last week, we recognize while students have a right to protest, they do not have the right to intimidate or threaten Jewish students — their classmates and peers. Jewish students have the right to learn in a safe environment. No student should feel as though they must hide their full identity to experience our campus environment, nor should their basic safety ever be jeopardized.

“We are calling upon our campus partners and seeking their support in ensuring a safe campus and in condemning these acute instances of antisemitic intimidation.”

Anti-Israel protestors chant, “There is only one solution, intifada revolution,” at an encampment on the campus of University of Texas at Dallas, May 1, 2024. Video: Submitted

Dallas City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn, whose District 12’s eastern border is part of the UTD campus, commended Governor Greg Abbott for sending DPS to assist other law enforcement officers with dismantling the encampment. Last month, Mendelsohn was appointed to the governor’s Texas Holocaust, Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission.

“The idea that students think they can ‘take over’ public land for their own use without any regard for the safety and security of other students, academics or university operations is unacceptable,” Mendelsohn said.

“We’ve seen very hateful speech coming from UTD students in recent months and it has created a difficult environment for Jewish students and staff.”

Mendelsohn said that she was puzzled by the number of universities across the country that have been allowing harassing, threatening and violent words.

“Thankfully, in Texas, hateful and antisemitic behavior on campuses has been quickly addressed by university presidents, elected leaders and law enforcement,” she said.

Anti-Israel protestors block Chess Plaza at the University of Texas at Dallas Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Photo: Submitted

This Post Has One Comment

  1. MKF

    Even my Alma Mater! I spent many years at UTD and it was an amazing institution. I began when it first opened to junior and senior-level undergrads. I finished my Ph.D. in 1997. I am sad to think I would not be safe as a Jewish woman at UTD during this hostile takeover. I wonder if the protestors even know what they are protesting. I wonder how anyone sane can side with terrorists. I wonder how this will be resolved permanently. Can education reach the extremists what really happened and what is at stake?

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