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UT protest begins afternoon of demonstrations in Austin


Protests under way at University of Texas.

Two protesters disrupt conservative think tank watch party.

More than 3,500 protesters are expected to march in Austin to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Chanting “no justice, no peace,” protesters rallying against Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president, marched from the University of Texas to the state Capitol.

It was the first mass protest in Austin in what’s expected to be an afternoon and weekend of them. Trump won only 27 percent of the vote in Travis County, and the day after the presidential election, protesters took to the streets from the University of Texas to Lady Bird Lake.

Much the same was expected on Inauguration Day. One group is planning a 5 p.m. march Friday from Auditorium Shores and a women’s march is planned for noon Saturday.

A coalition of UT students, faculty and staff staged a midday walkout and protest at the UT Tower and then headed toward the Capitol after 2 p.m.

In advance of their protest, the UT group issued a set of demands on Facebook.The group, which calls itself the Anti-Trump J20 Organizing Committee at UT Austin, said it will lead a campus-wide walkout on Friday at 12:15 p.m. and congregate outside the UT Tower.Among the group’s online demands: No UT cooperation with immigration authorities. No platform for white nationalists on campus, “including openly racist student groups and speakers.” Full and free access to health care for all, including reproductive and mental health care services on campus. Increased access to affordable student housing near UT.

Meanwhile, protesters briefly disrupted an inauguration watch party and panel discussion of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank in Austin. 

A woman who said she was named Dani: “I want to know how you can stand by someone who is a white supremacist?”

As the room laughed at her, another audience member, Jake Allen, stood up and started warning of mass graves along the border.

Both were hustled out of the auditorium by security.

Here’s our previous roundup of presidential protests expected on Inauguration Day, from reporter Nancy Flores:

More than 40 local organizations are preparing for a march and rally Friday in downtown Austin that’s expected to draw more than 3,500 anti-Donald Trump protesters to Auditorium Shores.

Shortly after the November election, community groups launched One Resistance, a nonpartisan coalition, to oppose the policies of the incoming Trump administration. Since then they’ve been meeting and planning the Inauguration Day protest as a grass-roots response.

“In Austin, we’re not just going to resist through protest, but we’re also going to resist by being a powerful example of effective government and community empowerment,” said City Council Member Greg Casar, who represents North Austin’s District 4 and helped convene the coalition. Casar noted that the council recently passed a resolution to identify emergency funding for immigrant legal services and plans to form an LGBTQ Quality of Life Commission to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

“It’s really the community that drives our values,” he said. “I think you’ll continue to see resistance from local policymakers as long as it’s demanded of us by groups like (One Resistance).”

Some of the participating coalition members include the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Austin, the Texas Disability Project and the Austin Central Labor Council. The coalition hopes that, despite the myriad causes the groups represent, they can learn from one another as they collectively organize beyond the Inauguration Day events.

“This event is only the beginning,” said Amanda Williams, executive director of the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity. The coalition, she said, plans to release an online community resource guide after the march to connect what it considers “targeted” communities with existing programs and services that offer local support and assistance.

“We anticipate that safe abortion access and reproductive justice will be further and more severely threatened under the incoming Trump administration,” Williams said. “We know that these are among a wide variety of rights that will be compromised in the coming years.”

For Paula Rojas of Communities of Color United for Racial Justice, joining the coalition means being able to “show our collective people power,” she said. Rojas plans to attend the family-friendly march with her daughter and to visit the special section for families with children, which will offer snacks and such things as diapers and baby wipes.

Demonstrators will gather at 5 p.m. for a welcome, prayer, speakers and music before marching up Congress Avenue to the Capitol and back to Auditorium Shores for a rally and music.

Other events planned in Austin on or after Inauguration Day include an LGBTQ Human Rights Rally 7-9 p.m. Friday at the south steps of the Capitol. According to Casar, some University of Texas student walkouts are planned for noon that day, as well as walkouts at some Austin school district high schools at 3 p.m. On Jan. 21, about 20,000 people are expected to protest at the Women’s March on ATX, where people from all across Texas will gather at noon at the Capitol.

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