© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Alamo Heights Residents Organize Black Lives Matter Protest

Several hundred people participated in a Black Lives Matter protest Saturday in predominantly-white Alamo Heights, an affluent city four miles north of downtown San Antonio.

Protesters gathered in the parking lot of the Lincoln Heights shopping center and marched a mile along sidewalks to Alamo Heights City Hall.

“What we wanted to do was to have Alamo Heights recognize that white supremacy and white privilege shape our community too, and that we need to work for racial justice in our own backyard,” said Shannon Mariotti, who lives in the area and helped her friend organize the demonstration.

According to data from the U.S. Census, Alamo Heights is 72% white, more than double the percentage of white people that live in the San Antonio Metro area as a whole. It has a median household income of $132,000 and a poverty rate below 5%, compared to 19% in San Antonio.

“So many white people are so afraid right of doing the wrong thing that they do nothing and we didn't want to be so concerned about that,” said Mariotti, who is on the board of directors for The Circle School, a private school in the Alamo Heights area with a social justice curriculum. “Part of what's so pernicious about our moment right now is white silence, right? People thinking that the impetus for those who are leading the change is on people of color.”

Mariotti said the organizers of the Alamo Heights protest reached out to Ananda Tomas and other organizers of the main protests downtown to coordinate the event and get their support.

Tomas said they were happy take part in the event.

“We understand the importance of not only being downtown, but in all of our communities,” said Tomas. “Police brutality and accountability issues affect every community everywhere. And I think by making a show here, in this community, people will know that people do recognize that not only is it happening in this community, but that we need to support our neighboring communities dealing with these issues.”

Before the march began, Tomas and the other downtown protest organizers taught the crowd chants and gave them directions.

Ananda Tomas leads protestors in a practice chant before the march to Alamo Heights City Hall June 6, 2020.
Credit Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
Ananda Tomas leads protestors in a practice chant before the march to Alamo Heights City Hall Saturday.

“This is going to be a peaceful protest,” Anthony Sanchez said, directing the crowd to let them know if someone crosses the line. “We will turn our own protesters in if they try to turn something beautiful into something very, very malicious.”

The marchers split up onto the sidewalk on either side of Broadway to walk to Alamo Heights City Hall.

Once the demonstrators arrived, they held a moment of silence for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Arbrey. After a break for water, they walked back to their cars, chanting once more.

The only signs of police during the protest were at intersections, where officers directed traffic.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter at @cmpcamille.