Congressman Greg Casar joins Justice Charter supporters to launch Prop A campaign
Local supporters of Proposition A, also known as the San Antonio Justice Charter, were joined by U.S. Congressman Greg Casar, Democratic politician Wendy Davis, and former District 1 councilman Roberto Trevińo on Thursday night to kick off the campaign to get the proposition passed in the May municipal election.
Immigration, abortion, and labor advocates were all present at the event, held at the local school workers’ union headquarters, to support what they said was a city charter amendment that represented overlapping goals for the different groups.
Prop A would deprioritize enforcement of abortion and low-level marijuana crimes, expand and codify the county’s cite-and-release program, ban no-knock warrants and police chokeholds, and appoint a city justice director to oversee city justice policy.
City Attorney Andy Segovia has said the justice director position is the only enforceable piece of Prop A because the rest violate state law. Advocates argue it's within a city’s right to use discretion over resources, including for criminal enforcement.
Casar said Prop A represented hope for democracy.
“Hopelessness is the greatest enemy of justice,” he said. “And what we are doing is going and instilling hope in the community that we can build a democracy where instead of oppressing one another, we take care of one another.”
Davis, who is currently a senior advisor for Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said the fall of Roe v. Wade last summer made local policies like Prop A essential, even with a district attorney who has said he won’t prosecute for abortion crimes.
“Abortion bans in Texas and all across the country have put people’s lives at risk,” Davis said. “That is why we need bold strategies like this one to help mitigate the harm of Texas’ cruel law. We need everyone, at every level of government, to do everything in their power to protect abortion access. No one should be prosecuted for providing or accessing basic medical care.”
Alejandra Lopez, the president of San Antonio Alliance, the local school workers’ union, said the impact of arresting members of the community for low level offenses sent out ripple effects through the rest of the community.
“Our communities are made of a rich fabric. As educators, we know this deep in our bones,” Lopez said. “When a child’s parent is arrested, it is a tear in the fabric of our community. When one of our young students is arrested, it is a tear in the fabric. And as educators, we see the effects of these tears: from the small, such as who will be there for after school pick up, to the large, like the stressed experience trying to figure out how to post bail.”
Edward Niño was one of several protestors outside of the event holding signs that said to vote no on Prop A. He said if it passed, it would lead to more crime.
“This is really crazy,” he said. “California tried to do this under Proposition 47, and crime has increased. Criminals ... don’t even fear going into places and just walking off with goods. They’ll just steal $250, $500, up to $950 over there, we would just be allowing criminals to get away with just walking in with $750 worth of goods.”
Ananda Tomas, the executive director of ACT4SA and the lead organizer in favor of Prop A, rejected the claim that Prop A’s passage would lead to more crime and that theft under $750 has been under cite-and-release policy since 2019.
“65% of your cite-and-release citations this entire time are for pot,” Tomas said. “So your theft, your shoplifting, any of those things is a very very small percentage. And SAPD has been doing this for almost four years, people just didn’t know it.”
She added that if someone commits any of the crimes that would be codified under cite-and-release as part of Prop A, officers will still interact with them when they cite them.
Once that happens, they are required to appear before a magistrate court and, unless they are eligible for a diversion program, will be charged with the crime.
Tomas said the real goal of the policy was to keep San Antonio residents from being put in jail for low-level offenses, and save city resources while doing it.
Prop A will be on the ballot for the municipal election on May 6.