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The recent events at universities like Columbia, UCLA, and Northwestern demonstrate why Governor Greg Abbott and University of Texas President Jay Hartzell were right to quickly and definitively prevent protesters from establishing encampments in public areas on campus.  Ignoring or appeasing protesters only allows them to gain a foothold and gives them leverage to make demands.

In the case of Columbia, the protesters eventually took over university buildings and trashed them before being pushed out. The administration at Northwestern was forced to concede defeat and capitulated to institutionalizing a program to regularly bring anti-Israel activists to campus. As of this morning, law enforcement at UCLA is attempting to dismantle the encampment, requiring a much heavier police force and higher likelihood of violence than if they had stopped it from the beginning.

Throughout the ordeal at UT, the Marxist protesters and their useful idiots within the faculty decried efforts to maintain public safety as violations of free speech. But two truths contradict that claim. One, encampments are not speech. You can’t just decide to “occupy” a public square indefinitely and make outrageous and absurd demands of the administration before you’ll leave.

Second, free speech was routinely protected. The day after the police thwarted the initial push to set up encampments, the protesters held an hours-long shoutfest on the south steps right under the iconic main building on campus. Not only did the police not break up the gathering but there was no police presence at all. That’s because ranting and yelling into a bullhorn is not illegal but setting up a shanty town on the most sacrosanct real estate at the university is.

Thank goodness for the bold and clear directives from the Governor and President Hartzell. As we found out days later, police confiscated “guns, buckets of large rocks, bricks, steel-enforced wood planks, mallets, and chains” from protesters. Another big protest – and likely attempt to camp – is planned for Sunday. Here’s hoping law enforcement, students, faculty and everyone involved stay safe.