Journalist faces felony charges amidst violent arrests at Texas University protest

Carlos Sanchez's arrest during a student protest at the University of Texas at Austin highlights tensions over press freedom and police conduct.

Image Credit: Reuters/USA TODAY NETWORK

At the University of Texas at Austin, the arrest of FOX 7 journalist Carlos Sanchez during a pro-Palestine student protest has sparked a widespread outcry. Sanchez, who was covering the demonstration, now faces a second-degree felony charge of assault on a peace officer, according to local NBC affiliate reports citing court documents.

The arrest occurred when Sanchez reportedly collided with a Texas Highway Patrol officer who was assisting the university’s police department in managing the protest. The official affidavit claims Sanchez “lunged toward” the officer and struck him with his camera. However, this narrative is contested by video evidence from the scene, which shows the journalist being thrust to the ground with his camera after apparently being pushed into the officer as police attempted to move demonstrators.

Originally detained on criminal trespass charges, which were later dropped, the escalation to a felony assault charge has led to significant criticism. The Freedom of the Press Foundation responded by stating that the video of the incident “does not show Sanchez intentionally hitting an officer with his camera,” and argued that there is no reason a journalist, present to cover the protest, would strike an officer.

The incident and subsequent felony charge against Sanchez have been condemned by several press freedom organizations. Seth Stern, FPF’s director of advocacy, described the arrest as “unacceptable, authoritarian bullying” and criticized the broader implications for journalists covering protests. He highlighted that despite past settlements involving law enforcement assaults on journalists, “many officers clearly haven’t learned their lesson.”

Ashanti Blaize, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, also commented on the matter, indicating that the felony charge represents “intimidation and retaliation” by Texas authorities and could have a chilling effect on journalists across Texas and beyond.

The student protests at the University of Texas are part of a broader national movement against U.S. foreign policy and the situation in Gaza. Protesters, including UT students and allies, have been demanding the university divest from Israeli investments and stop U.S. military aid to Israel. The demonstrations, characterized by slogans like “We are being peaceful, you are being violent!” have seen police use of “less-lethal” weapons such as flash-bang grenades, mace, and other chemical munitions.

Lenna Nasr of the Palestinian Youth Movement articulated the protesters’ stance, stating the need for UT to “divest from the Zionist state of Israel and from all institutions and companies that are enabling the current genocide in Gaza.” The protests have also called for the resignation of UT president Jay Hartzell, criticized for sanctioning the police’s militarized approach to peaceful student protests.


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Alexandra Jacobo is a dedicated progressive writer, activist, and mother with a deep-rooted passion for social justice and political engagement. Her journey into political activism began in 2011 at Zuccotti Park, where she supported the Occupy movement by distributing blankets to occupiers, marking the start of her earnest commitment to progressive causes. Driven by a desire to educate and inspire, Alexandra focuses her writing on a range of progressive issues, aiming to foster positive change both domestically and internationally. Her work is characterized by a strong commitment to community empowerment and a belief in the power of informed public action. As a mother, Alexandra brings a unique and personal perspective to her activism, understanding the importance of shaping a better world for future generations. Her writing not only highlights the challenges we face but also champions the potential for collective action to create a more equitable and sustainable world.