April 22, 2024

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Greg Abbott tells musicians 'don't go back' to Texas

Greg Abbott tells musicians 'don't go back' to Texas

Amid the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday told musicians who pulled out of the festival due to the U.S. military's sponsorship of the event, “don't come back” to the state.

Bringing thousands of visitors to Austin each March, SXSW is a globally recognized event showcasing music, film and interactive media. The 2024 SXSW Festival kicked off on March 8, and is expected to continue through the 16th with live panels and special events.

Despite the event's two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival's total impact on Austin's economy in 2022 was $280.7 million, according to SXSW, typically attracting more than 300,000 people each year.

However, the festival comes amid heightened tensions in the United States and around the world due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas that began on October 7, when Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian attack on Israel in history, killing 1,200 people.

Israel then launched its heaviest air strikes ever on the Gaza Strip. The Associated Press said that more than 30,800 Palestinians were killed in the Strip, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The high death toll led to international calls to stop the fighting to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Strip.

On Sunday, celebrities attending the 2024 Academy Awards wore pins in support of the Gaza ceasefire.

On Tuesday, musicians such as Kneecap, Lambrini Girls, Scowl, Gel, Okay Shalom, Squirrel Flower and Sprints began pulling out of the event in protest that the US Army is the event's sponsor. The artists were scheduled to perform at the festival from March 11 to 16.

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In a statement on the To Israel by the United States.

The group added that the decline would have a “significant financial impact” on the group. “But it is not an iota of hardship compared to the unimaginable suffering to which the people of Gaza are subjected every minute, every day.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a news conference at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas, on February 4, 2024. Amid the South by Southwest festival, Abbott told the musicians on Tuesday that they are pulling out of…

Sergio Flores/AFP/Getty Images

In response, Abbott took to X, formerly Twitter, to criticize the musicians' move, saying: “Don't come back,” adding that Texas is proud of the US military.

“Bands have withdrawn from SXSW under the auspices of the US Army. Goodbye. Don't come back. Austin remains the headquarters of Army Futures Command. San Antonio is a USA Military City. We are proud of the US Army in Texas. If you don't like it” Order, don't come here,” Abbott wrote on X.

Newsweek I reached out to Abbott's office and the U.S. Army via email for comment.

However, in an email to newsweek, SXSW prompt Newsweek to a series of posts on X, in which they said they disagreed with Abbott's comments.

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“SXSW does not agree with Governor Abbott. We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of SXSW, and has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists have made to exercise their right to freedom of expression.” via SXSW “Around the World,” she said. We are witnessing untold tragedies, the rise of oppressive regimes, and the increasing spread of violent conflict. “It is more important than ever that we come together to solve these major humanitarian issues.”

“Sponsoring the military is part of our commitment to advancing the ideas that shape our world. We have and will continue to support human rights for all. The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it highlights the growing importance of standing together against injustice.” SXSW added.

Following the October 7 attack, President Joe Biden, who later emphasized the need for humanitarian aid for Gaza, announced that the United States would stand by Israel during the conflict and pledged to send a large array of military equipment and weapons to Israel. The United States is currently the main supplier of weapons to Israel, and many of these systems are deployed in the conflict.

The US military is also leading the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, and will build a seaport on the Strip's Mediterranean coast, as Biden announced during his State of the Union address last week.

“This war has caused more casualties among innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined,” Biden said during his speech. The president called on Israel to “do its part” to facilitate aid in the region.

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Meanwhile, in a statement to the BBC, the US Army said it was “proud to be a sponsor of SXSW, and to have the opportunity to showcase the US Army.”[…]”Explore new ideas and visions, and create dynamic industry partnerships.”

Updated 12/03/24 at 4:54 PM ET: This article has been updated with comment from SXSW.