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Protesters and SAPD Keep The Peace On 5th Day of George Floyd Protests

The City of San Antonio issued a 9 p.m. curfew for downtown San Antonio following peaceful protests that turned violent in recent days.

Some protesters ignored the curfew on Wednesday — the day the curfew was issued — but the protests stayed peaceful.

Police helicopters circled above down for most of the evening, as hundreds of protesters gathered at San Antonio Public Safety Headquarters.

Police Chief William McManus sat in his vehicle, observing the group from a block away.

At the end of the block, leaders of the protest emphasized the importance of peace throughout the day. But tensions rose when one of the protest organizers was detained, accused of putting graffiti on the public safety building.

Antonio Lee, an organizer with Young Ambitious Activists, asked the crowd to stay back. Lee said de-escalation and maintaining the peace is critical to the success of these protests.

"The last thing that we need is a group of people walking towards two police officers trying to do their job. That's not peaceful, and that's not acting with pride or integrity," Lee said.

He repeated that message to the group, some of whom tried to crowd around the police as the activist was detained.

One activist was detained. After police reviewed footage and saw the activist was trying to clean graffiti rather than spray it. The detained activist was quickly released.
Credit Dominic Anthony | Texas Public Radio
One activist was detained. After police reviewed footage and saw the activist was trying to clean graffiti rather than spray it, the detained activist was quickly released.

"And it starts by grabbing those young men that that that need to say, 'Hey, I know what you feeling, young brother. Tighten up right now. I know how you feeling. Thank you for coming up to defend our brother over there, right. But we got to do it a little bit different,'" Lee said.

Lee said police reviewed footage and saw the activist wasn’t spraying the graffiti — he was trying to clean it. The detained activist was quickly released.

Later in the evening, the group marched to Travis Park. They arrived as the 9 p.m. curfew rolled around, and they stayed for hours.

Frederick, who declined to give his last name, said civil disobedience is an important part of the protest.

"I mean, it’s 'cause we want this to go about the right way, you know. We want change to happen. Change is not gonna happen right away, so we got to be out here as long as we can," Frederick said.

Protesters shared stories of encounters with police. Shamar told the crowd about a time he was pulled over by several squad calls because they thought he was driving a stolen car.

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"My mama was waiting on me to come home. I was trying to come home because I knew something like this was gonna happen. I try to avoid it and it still happens. This is the reason why we are here we are spread a message and that message is that we have rights. You can’t take away our rights just because you've got a badge on."

Things got tense when a man with a club, a full face covering and body pads started yelling at the group to pick up their trash, and people surrounded him, but leaders again de-escalated the situation.

At the end of the night, an SAPD officer thanked protesters on behalf of chief McManus.

"This is one of the best behaved groups that we've had all week, and we want to thank you," an SAPD officer said to the crowd.

"Y’all are one of the best behaved groups we’ve had all week," a demonstrator shouted in response.

The 9 p.m. curfew came and went, and there were no rubber bullets, wooden bullets, pepper pellets, flash bangs or tear gas used. No riot police pushed people back. And not a single water bottle was thrown.

Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony.

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Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony