Austin: Protesters Throw Smoke Bombs Into Hotel Hosting Anti-Abortion Conference

By Michael Nolan

Progressive activists disrupted an anti-abortion conference in Austin last Saturday as its attendees were preparing for a march at the capitol in protest of the 49th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade supreme court decision. During the action, one protester threw smoke bombs into an area near a conference room where attendees were gathered at the Austin Marriott South hotel.

The reactionary conference, titled “Boots on the Ground” was organized by Texas Right to Life as part of their efforts to overturn the right of women in the US to safely terminate a pregnancy. Around 11:45 am, the activists marched into the Marriott lobby carrying a banner that read “Working women lead the fight, safe abortions are our right!” Attendees of the conference were drawn into the lobby by the activists chanting “A woman’s place is in the fight! Workers of the world unite!” and “Working women give them hell! It is right to rebel!”

After about two minutes, a protester with the group lit and threw two smoke bombs into the hallway near a crowded conference room, landing among some of the conference attendees. Speculating on the political tendencies of the protesters, the anti-abortion reactionaries wrote in a blog post: “A dozen communist rioters trespassed into our Boots on the Ground educational conference in Austin on Saturday as we commemorated the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.” The group routinely refers to the Roe V Wade decision as tragic or pernicious.

Texas Right for Life is a reactionary political non-profit that channels roughly $2 million per year into advancing anti-abortion legislation in Texas, and was a major backer of the so-called “heartbeat legislation” which effectively banned abortion in Texas. In September 2021, after Texas passed a law allowing individuals to file civil suits against anyone involved in an abortion carried out after six weeks of pregnancy, Texas Right for Life created a “whistleblower” website soliciting anonymous tips in order to facilitate carrying out such lawsuits.

The action took place during a talk intended to inspire the attendees before heading to the Texas Capitol to participate in the “Texas Rally for Life.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who signed the state’s reactionary anti-abortion legislation into law, was a scheduled speaker at the rally. The deceptively named “Rally for Life” advocates for a total government ban on abortion, which would ultimately lead to the deaths and injuries of countless women. The event was held on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling which is the current legal underpinning of a woman’s constitutional right to abortion in the US.

After the smoke bomb was thrown, the activists marched back outside amid yellow smoke and the noise of the smoke alarms. One of the anti-abortion attendees attempted to throw a smoke bomb back at the protesters, but it landed near the front doors of the hotel, further filling the area with smoke.

The group continued to the side of the hotel where one protester spray painted “For a Proletarian Women’s Movement!” on the side of a metal storage container near the hotel before dispersing.

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