More than a week after the death of George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, San Antonians are still protesting his wrongful death. And Monday, they took to the streets of Southtown.
In triple-digit heat and in silence, the group marched from Blue Star Arts Complex to La Villita Historic Arts Village as a tribute to Floyd.
— Dominic Anthony Walsh (@_DominicAnthony) June 8, 2020
On the way there, activist Lexi Qaiyyim encouraged people to hold up their signs and their fists.
"They can't hear us, but they can see us."
When the group stopped at Arneson River Theater in La Villita, Jourdyn "Jeaux" Parks told the crowd — which packed the 800-person-capacity space — about herself, her loss of a child and of how the group needs to move forward. Parks explained that there have been community-driven task forces in San Antonio in the past, but they've not resulted in the kind of action or change that Parks thinks is necessary.
"So we have to be specific with what it is that we're asking for now. We have to make sure that the questions that we are asking about pointed and directed. We have to make sure that when we speak. We are not allowing people to deflect and tell us that they would like to talk to us later. I want an answer for why I'm dying today."
Qaiyyim also knows what she wants. "What I want to see is no police unions because I think that that's the main part, and why, you know, police officers are fired, but they're the reason why they get rehired into departments. So we want the police union to be gone." According to a Washington Post investigation, more than half of all fired San Antonio police officers are re-hired through an arbitration process that the union has a dsway in. Police Chief William McManus has told the Post that this process does a disservice to the good order of the department.
From there, the group marched to Hemisfair Park — this time while chanting.
The march was organized by Young Ambitious Activists, a group which has put together multiple of the marches in San Antonio this past week. Qaiyyim is a member of the 11-person organizing group.
Qaiyyim said the peacefulness of the march was intentional.
"We don't want to give anybody any reason to shut down what we're doing. We want as many people to hear and to come and see what we're doing and see the good that has come out of this."
There were many signs about distrust of law enforcement and with urges to "defund the police." So, when SAPD spokesperson Douglas Greene spoke to the crowd, it was no surprise that multiple members of the crowd shouted at him.
"I'm all for I'm all for reform policies. But before we get the reform policies, we've had to work on reforming the heart. There's a lot of people out there that don't believe their life matters. They don't believe their life matters. So that's why we have to invest in those folks too."
The group walked to the foot of the Tower of the Americas and ended up in the middle of Hemisfair Park. Throughout the march, protesters chanted the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the names of two Black San Antonians who died at the hands of the police: Marquise Jones and Charles Roundtree.
Hundreds of protesters are minutes away from the Tower of the Americas, which will be illuminated with gold and crimson light as the sun sets in memory of George Floyd. Their chants reverberate off the buildings on Market Street. @TPRNews pic.twitter.com/NQsOHnEq5K
— Dominic Anthony Walsh (@_DominicAnthony) June 9, 2020