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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Arrested pro-Palestine student protesters share stories from Travis County Jail

Naina Srivastava
Anne-Marie Jardine, an International Relations and Global Studies senior, poses at the intersection of 24th and Guadalupe Street on April 26, 2024. Jardine was arrested on the South Lawn at a pro-Palestine protest two days prior.

Anne-Marie Jardine and two other people locked arms on the South Lawn at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24 as police officers and state troopers pushed back the crowd of pro-Palestine protesters.

One officer grabbed the demonstrator next to Jardine while another said to Jardine, “I’m going to get you too.”

He pulled Jardine to the ground by her hair. Several more officers turned her onto her stomach and zip-tied her hands behind her back. One officer dug his knee into her shoulder blade.

“My shoes had come off because they were dragging me,” said Jardine, an international relations and global studies senior. “I was hurting so bad because they threw me to the ground.” 

Jardine was one of at least 57 arrested at the pro-Palestine demonstration on April 24, hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Committee. The protesters were charged with criminal trespassing, but all charges from that day have since been dropped.

Jardine said she got her period in the police van and could not access menstrual products during the two-hour transport and processing at the Travis County Jail. She said major cuts on her thigh from the gear on a state trooper’s bike went untreated for several hours.

“They were moving insanely slow,” Jardine said. “There was a point where they weren’t even talking to anybody, so it took them over an hour to get to me.”

George Lobb, a lawyer with the Austin Lawyers Guild, said the delays in medical care were “inhumane, but not illegal,” because the jail faces no consequences for not providing immediate care unless the person is “seriously harmed.” 

“Medical staff is on duty 24/7 to offer medical care for those in our custody as needed,” a Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said.

At about midnight, Jardine was put in a solitary cell. She said she was given only a moldy peanut butter sandwich and a few slices of bread to eat. She said each cell had an intercom to communicate with jail staff, but no one answered when she rang to ask for more menstrual products multiple times throughout the night. She was released at around 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 25 with other protesters. 

The Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the Travis County Jail’s services “meet or exceed” the requirements given in the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. This includes providing food, clothing and feminine hygiene products upon request, according to the spokesperson. 

Benjamin Kern was one of the demonstrators in the encampment set up Monday. Law enforcement dismantled the encampment and arrested everyone inside, including Kern. The 79 protesters arrested Monday have been released, but their charges were not dropped.

Kern said police officers gave him the option to either voluntarily leave the encampment or be arrested, and Kern chose to be arrested. 

“The Palestinians don’t get to choose whether or not they live this life,” Kern said. “How unbackboned would I be if I just walked out when things got hard?”

After being arrested, Kern joined other detained protesters in the Main Building for about an hour, where he said officers ignored a diabetic protester asking for food and water to maintain their blood sugar levels. Kern said officers only allowed him and one other protester to use the restroom while in the Main Building.

Law enforcement transported all the arrested protesters to the jail at around 5:30 p.m., Kern said. While they were being processed, he said the male protesters had their zip ties removed but not the female protesters.

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the delay occurred because of the high volume of people being processed. The arrested protesters were separated by gender in the holding area, and officers worked their way from one side of the room to the other, she said.

Kern said he was put in a solitary cell at approximately midnight and remained there until around 9 p.m. on Tuesday. He had expected to be released earlier, so he became more anxious the longer he was in his cell, he said.

Ibraheem, another protester who wished to only be identified by his first name, was arrested on April 24 at around 2:00 p.m. 

He said once he was processed and changed into prison clothes, he was in a holding cell with other arrested demonstrators under police supervision until nearly midnight. Ibraheem said a police officer shined a flashlight in his eyes when he turned his head to look behind him. At around 9 p.m., he asked officers for a place to pray, and he said they told him he had to wait.

Lobb said the jail had no legal obligation to provide a prayer space while Ibraheem was in the holding area, but that it was still “morally wrong.”

“These things happen because they’re not responsible,” Lobb said. “If they were, they would have been sued a long time ago.”

At 11:50 p.m., officers moved Ibraheem to a solitary cell, where he remained for 12 hours before his release. He said he sang songs and recited the Qur’an to pass the time in his cold, brightly lit cell. 

Health and society senior Citlalli Soto-Ferate was also arrested on April 24 at about 1 p.m. and loaded into a van with six other protesters.

When Soto-Ferate arrived at the jail, she and her fellow demonstrators were processed and changed into prison clothes. She said another female demonstrator, who was Muslim but didn’t wear the hijab, requested more modest prison clothes. Officers accused the demonstrator of “talking back” and put her in a cell alone, Soto-Ferate said. 

The Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the jail provided sweatshirts to women who requested covering for their arms.

Officers also moved Soto-Ferate to a solitary cell at 11 p.m. She said the only source of water was connected to the toilet, so she wasn’t comfortable drinking it. Soto-Ferate was released at approximately 8 a.m.

About 150 protesters stood outside the jail all night calling for those inside to be released.

“I could hear the cheering outside,” Soto-Ferate said. “It made me feel less alone.”

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About the Contributor
Naina Srivastava, Senior News Reporter & Senior Photographer
Naina is a freshman journalism major from Mountain View, California. She is currently a senior news reporter and senior photographer at the Texan.