Texas governor says 'don't come back' to musicians who dropped out of SXSW in protest of military ties

“SXSW does not agree with Governor Abbott,” the festival responded on their social media accounts.

The Texas governor and SXSW are feuding.

Governor Abbott kicked off a back-and-forth with the entertainment, tech, and music festival currently taking place in Austin, TX. Over 60 bands have dropped out of scheduled performances at SXSW due to the U.S. Army's sponsorship and the inclusion of defense contractors on conference panels.

Abbott basically told the musicians to not let the door hit them on the way out. "Bye. Don’t come back,” Abbott wrote on social media in response to the news. “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."

<p>Brandon Bell/Getty </p> Governor Greg Abbott

Brandon Bell/Getty

Governor Greg Abbott

But SXSW didn't appreciate his interference, releasing a statement of their own that begins, "SXSW does not agree with Governor Abbott."

"We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints," the statement continues. "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. 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 U.S. Army is a Super Sponsor of SXSW, but it also seems that the boycott largely circled around those in the defense industry given a platform at the festival. A website, No Warmongers at SXSW 2024, run by the Austin for Palestine Coalition called out the defense contractors Raytheon, Collins Aerospace and BAE Systems that are part of the conference line-up. Their complaint alleges that the contractors are contributing to the current Israel-Hamas war, manufacturing weapons, supplies, and equipment that the Israeli government is using against Palestinians.

The webpage also calls attention to the participation of Department of Defense agencies, including the CIA, NSA, and NRO. "These organizations contribute to violence around the world, undermining the festival’s reputation as a celebration of creativity and innovation," they wrote. "If SXSW wishes to retain its credibility, it must change course by disavowing the normalization of militarization within the tech and entertainment industries.”

Also listed are the names of the bands and panelists who have dropped out in support of the boycott.

<p>Stephen Olker/SXSW Conference & Festivals via Getty</p> SXSW 2024

Stephen Olker/SXSW Conference & Festivals via Getty

SXSW 2024

In their statement, SXSW countered the argument with making space for all voices and understanding the systems we disagree with. "The defense industry has historically been a proving ground for many of the systems we rely on today," the festival statement continues. "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 statement concludes. "The situation in the Middle East is tragic, and it illuminates the heightened importance of standing together against injustice."

The boycott is endorsed by the United Musicians and Allied Workers organization.

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Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.