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Officials Say Nearly 40 San Antonio Businesses Damaged After Saturday’s George Floyd Protests

Windows on Houston Street are boarded up following Saturday's protests.
Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
Windows on Houston Street are boarded up following Saturday's protests.

Thirty-nine businesses in downtown San Antonio reported damages Saturday night. Protests speaking out against police killings of black Americans, sparked by the death of George Floyd, began peacefully. But at night, near the Alamo, violence broke out — leading to broken windows and looted store fronts.

Damage or graffiti was found on Houston Street, Commerce street, the River Walk, Hemisfair and La Villita. Dozens of volunteers and city crews began cleaning up in the early hours Sunday as the city implemented new temporary restrictions regarding gathering at the Alamo under its downtown curfew.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the peaceful portions of Saturday’s protests and clean-up efforts on Sunday are hallmarks of San Antonio’s Compassion.

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Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg hold a press conference on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s difficult to imagine that the destruction that was caused last night was caused by our residents. I’m sure we’ll know more in the coming days but the ugly scenes from late last night certainly didn’t remind me or anyone else of our San Antonio,” Nirenberg said on Sunday afternoon.

Businesses along Houston Street had boarded up nearly all of their windows by Sunday afternoon. The block of store fronts is just feet away from Alamo Plaza where looters broke windows and took merchandise from stores.

One of those stores was Regalos Mexicanos which sells Mexican artwork. Its owner Veronica Sandoval said she watched people break into her store via a Facebook Live video feed.

“Just before they were going to get ready to do some serious damage the police stepped in and fired rubber bullets and some tear gas so that pushed that running out of my store,” said Sandoval.

She estimates some $15,000 worth of damage was done. One of her windows was broken but her entire store front was boarded up for precaution.

“And I have no idea how long they will be (up),” she said. “If they’ll be (up) for a few days or they’ll be all week, it just kind of depends on what’s going to happen, we have to follow it day by day.”

While preparing for other demonstrations, she said she understands why they’re happening.

“This is not just something that happened for one person that died under police brutality, it’s been going on for many, many years,” she said. “For people who have been quarantined, they’re broke, their future is uncertain, they don’t know where they’re getting their next meal from, and then you see things like this on TV, with the whole police thing and death of this gentleman, Floyd; I can totally understand it.”

Protests against Floyd’s death have ignited civil discourse in multiple U.S. cities. San Antonio, while experiencing protests of its own in other similar deaths, has not seen damage like this.

However, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus called Floyd’s death a murder and he anticipated there would be some chaos in San Antonio.

“Under other circumstances I would say yes I was surprised but I’m not because of what happened in Minneapolis,” McManus said. “What happened in Minneapolis was one of the most egregious things I’ve seen in my years of policing. It wasn’t surprising last night the level of frustration as shown by the number of people that showed up.”

McManus said SAPD will have just as many police officers in downtown Sunday night as they did on Saturday. The city is imposing a curfew in Downtown San Antonio tonight beginning at 10 p.m.. No one was allowed in Alamo Plaza starting at 6 p.m. 

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

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