AUSTIN – Sunday Nov. 12th, residents from all over the state traveled by car and bus to protest Texas’ and the United States’ continued financial support of the genocide currently occurring in Gaza. Attendance was estimated to be around 60,000. 

Texas is home to an estimated 13,879 Palestinians, a significant portion of the United States’ total Palestinian population of around 170,000. 

Texas artist Roberto Marquez continued work on a piece inspired by the cause. Photo Credit: Sam Judy

Held in the capital city of the state, the Austin protest hosted a massive crowd of demonstrators calling for a ceasefire, the return of political prisoners, and an end to Israeli occupation on Palestinian land. Texans of all ethnicities, faiths, and backgrounds were in attendance as crowds gathered around the entrance of the Texas Capitol Building. The protest comes 10 days following Gov. Abbot’s visit to Israel, where he stated that Texas “stands ready to offer [its] complete and total support to Israel.” 

The current death toll in Gaza is over 11,100, more than 4,100 of which are children. Additionally, reports of four hour daily breaks from bombings and safe paths for civilians to migrate south have been disputed by journalists covering events in real time from Palestine, Bisan Owda and Motaz Azaiza.

Austin resident Antonio and his father Joe were among the protesters gathered at the Capitol Building. Originally from Colombia,  Antonio spoke on their sentiments regarding Abbott’s promised support of Israel.

“It’s around $300 million that Texas gives to Israel every year in tax dollars and I think that’s disgusting. They’re literally funding genocide. They’re displacing families from their own homes that they’ve lived in for generations. That doesn’t represent the true Texan heart,” Antonio says. “Maybe people who lack education and an understanding of what’s going on in the Middle East agree with [Abbott]. But us? The people? We don’t agree with what Israel is doing. We don’t have any ties to Muslim people or anything, but we feel for them. It breaks my heart that kids, as we’re speaking right now, are dying.”

Protesters flooded the streets of Austin, occupying massive stretches of the downtown area at a time as tens of thousands marched in support of civilians undergoing bombings  in Gaza. Photo Credit: Sam Judy

Organized by Palestinian Youth Movement, the demonstration’s focus was to raise awareness of the continued colonization of Palestinian land in a modern age to mobilize the public to speak out and demand representatives at all levels of government call for a ceasefire.  Lifelong Texan and representative of Palestinian Youth Movement Ana offered her perspective on Gov. Abbott’s comments and the importance of Texan solidarity with Palestine.

“I think it’s a very unfortunate decision to sideline Palestinian realities and to prioritize settler colonialism over a colonized population. And it hurts Palestinian residents of Texas greatly. [Showing solidarity] is incredibly important. Texas has one of the most lively and full Palestinian and Arab populations in the United States. Back in Houston, we have such a strong movement fighting for Palestinian liberation. It’s incredibly important for Texans to show up right now in every city. Not just this protest, every local protest matters,” Ana says. “And the turnout has been incredible. We’re very grateful and we expect nothing less from the public. We all show up for each other.”

As Texas has had a long history of discrimination – with Black, Indigenous, and Latine folk targeted in violence, economic hardship, segregation, and displacement throughout the state’s existence – the working class and non-white communities have largely provided an unshakeable support for both Palestinian neighbors and those suffering mass injustice on occupied lands in Palestine.

The march was led by protesters riding on horseback, waving Palestinian flags. Photo Credit: Sam Judy

The Weekly previously covered common factors with our own country’s colonization and civil rights movements that hold resonance with the effort to free Palestine, but Texas holds special connections with both Palestine and its occupying nation-state Israel.

Discrimination in the state has been constant with significant conflicts marked throughout Texas history, such as the Texas slave insurrection panic of 1860, ethnic cleansing, and de facto segregation. Variably, Texas has been host to several arms manufacturers, such as Lockheed-Martin, producing missiles and other arms that are directly shipped overseas to Israel.

The crowd of around 60,000 attracted the rapt attention of onlookers and bystanders. Photo Credit: Sam Judy

The juxtaposition of a state government providing money and weapons to a settler colonial state committing genocide with several residents holding generational memories of subjugation and widespread violence has resulted in a peaked dissonance between sensibilities of Texas State Government and its constituents.

Among those constituents is Kate, a Dallasite who drove down to Austin to attend the protest. “I’m not surprised [at the turnout]. This is an atrocity and the United States is complicit and is participating. People are just using their voice as they should. [Abbott] doesn’t speak for us and I know the money he’s committed comes out of the discretionary fund and I think it’s wrong,” Kate says. “This is a clear violation of international protocol, which is not recognized by the occupiers.”

Additionally, aerospace and defense companies like Boeing, L3Harris, Northrop Grumman, and more produce a massive amount of missiles with integrated GPS technology utilized by Israel in its bombardment of Gaza. All of these companies manufacture in the State of Texas to then sell their stock to the United States Government. This stock is then provided to Israel through the Foreign Military Sales program and allocated foreign military funding. In the DFW metroplex specifically, towns like Grand Prairie and Garland respectively host arms manufacturers Lockheed-Martin and General Dynamics, the latter providing almost all of Israel’s MK80 bombs.

Around  8.1% of the nation’s entire Palestinian population resides in Texas. While the vast majority of Texans are not Palestinian, a sizable portion of the Palestinian community in the US are Texans. Of course, most have suffered significant familial loss due to bombings in Gaza. As community members grieve, non-Palestinian Texans have come out in large numbers to offer their neighbors support.

As its community continues to show out in huge numbers in support of Palestine, Texas’ protest numbers have been largely consistent  with significant turnout around the country with around 300,000 demonstrating in DC during the national protest last week. Actions, public protests, and acts of civil disobedience have become more frequent as bombings in Gaza have continued through the last month. In Texas, the movement to free Palestine is as alive and active as ever.