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US Army sponsorship of Texas festival draws pro-Palestinian boycott

Palestine flag (Unsplash)
March 14, 2024

Dozens of performers are boycotting the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, in a pro-Palestinian protest against the sponsorship of the event by the U.S. Army, claiming that the Army supports Israel’s “violent oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The protest of the SXSW festival was prompted by an Instagram post shared by the Austin for Palestine Coalition in February, which called for performers to protest and boycott the SXSW due to the Army’s sponsorship of the event and its ties to weapons manufacturing companies that have allegedly provided weapons to the Israeli Defense Forces.

“We are heeding the call of Palestinian civil society to engage in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israeli occupation and those supplying arms to Israel for its genocide against the Palestinian people,” the group wrote. “SXSW must disinvite Raytheon (RTX), its subsidiary Collins Aerospace, and BAE Systems to the conference and festivals in the city of Austin.”

The Austin for Palestine Coalition claimed that the weapons manufacturing groups affiliated with the SXSW festival have “direct ties to the arming of Israel” and support the “violent oppression of the Palestinian people.”

In the aftermath of the Austin for Palestine Coalition’s call for a boycott and protest of the SXSW festival, multiple bands and artists announced they would no longer appear at the event, according to Fox News.

READ MORE: Major airport blocked by pro-Palestine protestors

“I am pulling out specifically because of the fact that SXSW is platforming defense contractors including Raytheon subsidiaries as well as the US Army, a main sponsor of the festival,” Ella Williams, who goes by the performance name “Squirrel Flower,” wrote in a post on Instagram.

“Genocide profiteers like Raytheon supply weapons to the IDF, paid for by our taxes,” Williams added. “A music festival should not include war profiteers. I refuse to be complicit in this and withdraw my art and labor in protest.”

After multiple artists announced their decision to boycott the SXSW, Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) released a statement on X, formerly Twitter, saying, “Bands pull out of SXSW over U.S. Army sponsorship. Bye. Don’t come back. Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

In response to the Texas governor’s statement, SXSW released its own statement, noting that the organization “does not agree with Governor Abbott” and “welcomes diverse viewpoints.”

According to Fox News, despite multiple bands and artists boycotting this year’s event in Texas, over 2,000 performers were scheduled for the festival.