SXSW Addresses Protest Over Defense Industry Ties After Governor Greg Abbott Tells Musicians “Don’t Come Here”

SXSW Addresses Protest Over Defense Industry Ties After Governor Greg Abbott Tells Musicians “Don’t Come Here”

Over the past week, more than 60 bands have dropped out of SXSW in protest of the festival’s ties to the US Army and the defense industry. The festival had largely remained silent in light of these cancellations, but today they’ve addressed the protest on social media after Texas governor Greg Abbott tweeted about the situation.

In his tweet that linked away to a news article about the protest, Abbott wrote: “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.”

“SXSW does not agree with Governor Abbott,” the festival’s representatives wrote back in response. “We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech.”

In a thread, they continued:

Across the globe, we are witnessing unspeakable tragedies, the rise of repressive regimes, and the increasing spread of violent conflict. It’s more crucial than ever that we come together to solve these greater humanitarian issues.

The defense industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These institutions are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we believe it’s better to understand how their approach will impact our lives.

The Army’s sponsorship is part of our commitment to bring forward ideas that shape our world. In regard to Collins Aerospace, they participated this year as a sponsor of two SXSW Pitch categories, giving entrepreneurs visibility and funding for potentially game-changing work.

We have and will continue to support human rights for all. The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.

SXSW kicked off last week. The music portion of the event got underway on Monday, and will run through Saturday. The Austin band Good Looks are one of the latest to drop out of their official showcases at the festival, and lead singer Tyler Jordan discussed their decision during an on-air television interview with Spectrum News 1:

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