Protestors At Alamo Defend Cenotaph; In Boerne, They Want Businesses Reopened
Several dozen protesters gathered in front of the Alamo in San Antonio and at Boerne's new city hall complex on Saturday.
In San Antonio, dozens of protesters, many of them armed and masked, protested the plan to move the Cenotaph as part of the Alamo Plaza renovation project.
The groups This Is Texas Freedom Force and Open Carry Texas organized the event. Brandon Burkhart, the TITFF president, said the city moved a Confederate statue from Travis Park shortly after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when most of the group was in Houston.
"How chicken and cowardly is that?" he asked rhetorically. "So whenever the COVID-19 orders went into effect, we started monitoring the Alamo Cenotaph here every single day."
David Amad, vice president of Open Carry Texas, also disagreed with the planned changes. "The Alamo is not a place to be reimagined," he said. "It's a place to be respected and remembered, and that's it."
Amad added that the Alamo was worth physically fighting for, but that he hoped to use nonviolent tactics to prevent the Cenotaph's relocation.
The city’s plan calls for the monument to be moved about 500 feet to the south near Rivercenter Mall, where a bandstand currently stands.
Supporters of the relocation plan, including historians like John L. Hinnant, have said the monument's spot has no historical significance. They want the grounds changed to better resemble what the site looked like during the 1836 battle, which is an objective of the renovation master plan.
“That cannot be done unless the Cenotaph is moved,” Hinnant said during a December 2019 meeting.
Some others at the same protest on Saturday also said the Alamo renovations are non-essential and should wait until the city’s “Stay At Home, Work Safe” orders are rescinded.
In a statement to TPR, the City of San Antonio explained that, “Construction crews are expected to abide by COVID-19 social distancing and face covering rules and regulations.”
Under DHS guidelines, construction is considered essential.
Amad did not wear a mask at the event, and he said the government shouldn't mandate face coverings.
"Is the virus real? Absolutely. Is it potentially serious? Absolutely. Is it going to kill some people? Yes, it is," he said. "But it is not the bubonic plague from the Middle Ages that they're trying to make it out to be."
In Boerne, dozens of people protested the orders that shuttered businesses because of the coronavirus crisis.
Barbara and Bruce Burger were in Boerne. They own businesses in both cities.
"That's the worst thing that you can do is shut somebody's constitutional rights down," Barbara Burger said.
"I don't understand how they can tell how the government can tell us as small business owners that we have to shut down!" Bruce Burger added. "That's going way above and beyond anything I ever thought I would see in America."
Galen Morgan was ready to speak to the state and national leaders.
"This message is for Gov. [Greg] Abbott and President [Donald] Trump. I still believe in the Constitution. I still have my right to my life, my liberty and my pursuit of happiness. You took it away, and I'm getting it back. With or without you, I know how to vote."
Many people at the event said that Boerne has seen few COVID-19 infections so shuttering non-essential businesses was unnecessary. They emphasized the need to get businesses reopened and get the economy back on track.
Boerne Mayor Tim Handren sympathized with the protestors. He runs the Santikos theater chain, and he said he had to furlough almost 700 employees.
Like everyone else, he doesn't know how the re-opening of business is going to play out.
"I don't know what the new normal is going to look like," he admitted. "I don't think anybody does. But I think the governor is going to do it in a way that he doesn't put our health at risk."
Abbott was expected to make an announcement Monday on the state's next steps in reopening the economy.
Joey Palacios contributed to this report.
Dominic Anthony can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony.
Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.
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