By Josefina Morales
On Wednesday evening, University of Texas at Austin (UT) student group Cops Off Campus rallied supporters on the steps of the UT Tower to protest the police murder of Daunte Wright and show solidarity with those protesting elsewhere. Wright’s murder on April 11 has sparked the people’s anger anew, and protests against police have broken out in multiple cities this week as protesters in Brooklyn Center, a community on the outskirts of Minneapolis, continue to rebel.
Protesters carried a banner reading, “People’s Justice for Daunte Wright” and signs reading, “Get police off our campus—UTPD hates the masses!” and “Students and workers unite against ruling-class mercenaries” pointing to entities such as the University of Texas Police Department (UTPD), Austin Police Department (APD), the military, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), among others, as similar institutions of oppression.
A speaker with the student organization Liberation Coalition spoke about how Wright’s murder cannot be viewed in isolation but is connected to the murders of George Floyd, Mike Ramos, the LA Riots of 1992, and more, and how the violence is rooted in imperialism.
An activist from the Palestine Solidarity Committee on campus spoke about how Palestinian people demonstrated their support of rebelling in the streets as a direct response to George Floyd’s murder last year, and the importance of international solidarity in fighting back against imperialism, “The whole world watched us wake up last summer,” he said. He also pointed out the similarity between US police and the Israeli Defense Forces in terms of their tactics of oppression, revealing the way US imperialists utilize similar tactics wherever they operate.
An activist from Red Aid, a political prisoner support group, reminded the crowd how far the state is willing to go to mobilize against rebellion, having charged 14,000 US protesters with crimes over the course of the May Uprisings, and using the tactic of drawing distinctions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protesters. She told supporters to not lose sight of the fight against the state just because many charges have been dropped.
An organizer of the event addressed the crowd before leading them in a march across campus, saying, “This university has nothing without the people! We don’t want any more military investments, no more DPS (Department of Public Safety, the Texas state police) and APD on campus!”
Another activist spoke on the recent $8 million grant UTPD received from UT, explaining that a satellite office is being built and HALO street cameras are next on the agenda: “That money isn’t meant for us, for our safety! It is meant to suppress us!” He continued: “Stop cooperating with ICE, with DPS! We want all cops off campus!”
Back at the tower, supporters carrying flowers lit candles at a small memorial for Wright on the steps, and organizers called for a minute of silence in honor of Black and Latino people murdered by the police.
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