'It Could Have Been Me': San Antonians Continue To Protest The Death Of George Floyd
“This is what a peaceful protest looks like,” Trevor Taylor said, addressing a crowd of about 300 people at San Antonio Public Safety Headquarters early Wednesday evening.
Taylor pointed to red graffiti somebody painted on the building. “Pig,” the vandals wrote. Organizers were hurriedly scrubbing the paint off. Taylor said others are trying to ruin the peaceful movement they started.
At least 500 people attended the march Wednesday afternoon that started at the San Antonio Public Safety Headquarters downtown. In addition to calling for justice reform and peace, the group took to the closed off street, marched past the courthouse and eventually made their way to Travis Park where people laid on the grass with their hands behind their backs shouting, “I can’t breath,” repeatedly.
It’s the fifth day protestors took to the streets in San Antonio in the name of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man, who officials say was killed after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck while restraining him for more than eight minutes.
Taylor, a Freshmen English teacher at Wagner High School, offered words to the crowd after an emotional day, breaking down in tears.
“It's my job to tell the people that look like me -- the teenagers that look up to me -- to say that this world might not accept you. They might not love you, but you’ve gotta do everything in your power to keep pushing. That you've gotta do everything in your power to keep fighting. That you've got to do everything in your power to not fall and to be another stereotype,” he said. “That’s why I’m out here. Because I need the ones that look up to me to understand that I’m fighting for them.”
At police headquarters, Taylor ran into a former student of his: 17-year-old Jasmine Shaw, a senior at Wagner HIgh School. They hugged each other, cried, and he offered her words of comfort and empowerment: “I told you you had a voice and you’re using it. I’m so proud of you.”
Taylor was one of many people who expressed his anger, frustration and pain brought on by the criminal justice system in the country, where Black people are disproportionately incarcerated and are more likely to be killed by law enforcement.
Wednesday’s protests come after days of protests that have ultimately become violent around nightfall each day. Protesters and police officers have clashed each night, with the crowds dispersing after police fire projectiles and release teargas into crowds, some of whom are peaceful. Police say others — a smaller sect of people — have thrown water bottles, bricks and other items at officers, injuring at least four of them.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has enacted another curfew order for Downtown San Antonio. The curfew will run from 9 p.m.–6 a.m. nightly through Sunday, June 7.
But that doesn’t mean the group of hundreds of people plan to stop marching and protesting.
“How long did MLK March?” someone shouted from the crowd as people began clearing the area.
Lexi Qaiyyim, one of the event’s organizers, answered, “More than four days.”
Organizers said they plan to be back at SAPD Headquarters Thursday at 3 p.m. and will convene at the downtown courthouse at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, city officials continue to prepare for possible additional rioting in the streets, which have left nearly 40 downtown businesses damaged after looters broke windows and stole items Saturday night.
Earlier Wednesday, city workers put up a four-foot-tall chain link fence mounted on water-filled plastic barriers in front of the Alamo. The temporary fencing is another precaution the city has taken in anticipation of protests downtown.
Despite the curfew, demonstrators continued peacefully after 9 p.m. without police interference. The crowd thinned throughout the night, but several protestors committed to staying until sunrise.
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