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San Antonians Talk About How To Unite In The Wake Of Dallas Shootings

Texas Public Radio reporters reached out to public officials and community members following the fatal shootings of Dallas police officers Thursday night. We asked about the relationships between police and the public, whether national events have raised tension levels in San Antonio and whether officers feel vulnerable on the job? 

We talked to:

  • City officials and police
  • Residents of the East Side
  • San Antonio NAACP President Oliver Hill

Here's what we heard.
City Officials and Police
 
At a Friday press briefing, San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor made a call to action to citizen groups and the police to work together. “Let the tragedies of the recent weeks strengthen our resolve. Let it unify each of us with our neighbors to stand against the horrific violence that is shaking our country.”

When asked if Thursday’s attack would lead to any changes in how SAPD handles protests, Deputy Chief Anthony Trevino says it’s possible.

“As more information is made available we’re going to look at that, review that, and compare that with our practices on how we handle rallies of this nature. And make sure that we’re taking that into consideration. Our obligation isn’t just keeping officers safe but keeping members of the community safe.”

This year the 100 Club of San Antonio plans to donate $10,000 from its annual spaghetti dinner to the families of the Dallas police officers killed Thursday night. SAPD Captain Joe Salvaggio, is one of the organizers, and says acts like this can often affect morale in police departments.

“It takes it down not just one notch, but several notches. The morale of our department and I’d say police officers nationwide, there’s concern, that we’re being targeted more than anybody.”

East Side Residents

Some members of the African American community in San Antonio say the recent shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Dallas could happen anywhere.

Over lunch at Tony G’s Soul Food, Joe Linson describes the relationship between African Americans and the police in San Antonio as pretty good. Linson is originally from Dallas and now lives here. 

"In San Antonio, it’s not as strident, the anger is not as representative as say Dallas or Houston, or any of the other big cities. San Antonio is more of a laid back city, even our relationship with the police for example a lot better than the history in Dallas," Linson says.

Linson was one of several diners we spoke to.

sa_af_am_react_wrap_for_web.mp3
Story reported by TPR's Louisa Jonas

San Antonio NAACP President Oliver Hill 

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Credit Shelley Kofler / Texas Public Radio
Oliver Hill is President of the NAACP office in San Antonio.

Oliver Hill, the president of the NAACP in San Antonio, says he has an open line of communication with the city’s police department. Hill says he meets quarterly with San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and communicates more frequently with the department about public safety changes and concerns that affect the community.

Hill describes police-community relations as good, but says there is growing tension following police shootings of unarmed black men around the country, and the ambush of officers in Dallas. 

In an interview with Texas Public Radio’s Shelley Kofler, Hill said there’s a need to reform the judicial process so officers who fatally shoot citizens are required to go to trial where the facts of the cases are discussed publicly.  He also called for police to build greater trust by visiting neighborhoods when they’re not necessarily investigating  crimes, to “sit side-by-side with the community folk.”

oliver_hill_interview-police_shootings_7-8-16.mp3
Excerpt from Shelley Kofler's interview with NAACP President Oliver Hill