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'Defund Them All' Protest Calls For Collaborative Action Against San Antonio Police, ICE

Protestors march up Guadalupe Street into San Antonio's West Side.
Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
Protestors march up Guadalupe Street into San Antonio's West Side.

Protesters in San Antonio continued calls for the defunding of law enforcement on Friday night. About five dozen protestors attended the rally which started at San Antonio’s Municipal Court building and ended at a mural on Laredo Street.

Their focus was not just funding for the San Antonio Police Department but other enforcement agencies like Bexar County Sheriff’s Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The protest was held in conjunction with a campaign by local activists called “Ten Days To Defund” which demands that the San Antonio city council reduce funding to the San Antonio Police Department.

Friday’s gathering was partially organized by Katy Murdza of SA Stands, an immigrant rights coalition. She said was to call attention to the difficulties immigrant and Black communities face with law enforcement.

“We need to unite as an immigrant rights movement, as the Black lives matter movement and defund all of the agencies that are harming our communities, creating brutality people in our communities, who are incarcerating people, deporting people, killing people by holding them in detention centers during the COVID outbreak,” she said.

Since late May, protests have ignited across the country after the death of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man who died after a police pressed his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

At least two protests in May and early June turned violent with damage to property in downtown which prompted use of force by San Antonio Police.

Camille Wright, a lead organizer with Black Future Collective and Defund Coalition San Antonio said Friday’s march was about intersectionality between different movements taking place in San Antonio.

“A lot of times it’s Black versus Latinx, and it becomes it real anti-Black or anti-Hispanic, so showing that all these organizations can come together and do something like this and go against Border Patrol, ICE, SAPD, all of those together, it really shows a unified front that you haven’t seen in San Antonio,” she said.

The march included several moments of silence for Black men killed or injured during encounters with police and one at a mural of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, a Guatemalan woman who was shot in the head by a Border Patrol agent in Laredo in 2018.   

The march ended at a mural of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez who was shot by Border Patrol agents in 2018.
Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
The march ended at a mural of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez who was shot by Border Patrol agents in 2018.

The city council is expected to approve the city’s proposed $2.9 billion budget on Thursday. It includes $487 million dollars for the police department in 2021; an increase of about $8 million. That increase caused local activists to launch the defund campaign with daily events until at least the vote on the budget.

Other cities, like Austin, have reduced funding to their police departments.

Part of that increase for SAPD is contractually obligated due to the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the San Antonio Police Officers Association which required a 5% increase in police salaries. Civilian employees with the city will not receive any pay increases in the 2021 budget as the city manages a funding slump due to the pandemic.

While the calls for defunding police have been mostly to reduce the budget and relocating funding into other services, Wright said she wants to see a full abolishment of police.

“Defund is a step towards abolition, it doesn’t happen overnight, we’re in this for the long haul,” Wright said. “It’s not going to happen in six months, it’s not going to happen in a year. This is a long process but something that we truly believe and we think that now is the time.”

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

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