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Demonstrators Clash With San Antonio Police As Another Peaceful Protest Turns Violent

This post was updated Wednesday, June 3, at 2:22 a.m.

More than 100 demonstrators gathered at the Bexar County Courthouse Tuesday evening for another protest in honor of George Floyd. After five hours of peaceful protest, the demonstrators found themselves in conflict again with San Antonio Police.

The group made their way from the courthouse, to the San Antonio Police Department to Travis Park — where, on Saturday, the first vigil for George Floyd was held. By the time the demonstrators neared Alamo Plaza, which was closed tonight, things became less peaceful.

Demonstrators threw several water bottles at officers, and police responded with pepper pellets, wooden bullets, rubber bullets, flash bangs and tear gas. After shots rang out the protestors dispersed, and officers followed them down Losoya and Commerce streets. Texas DPS Troopers were also on-site at the Alamo.

One demonstrator named Andre said he didn't understand how the scene escalated.

"It was peaceful the whole way round. You know, cops... I don't know where they get this at, where they could just, you know, shoot at us. I don't know. I guess their fear of the crowd, but we're just peaceful protestors, and we wasn't really doing anything."

Even though water bottles had been thrown at police, Andre said that wasn't a valid reason for the police's force. Another protestor, Terri, agreed:

"Y'all hung us, y'all spat on us, y'all kidnapped our children, and y'all get mad over some f—ing water bottles?"

SAPD Spokesman Lieutenant Jesse Salame told TPR the response was appropriate and that water bottles are sometimes filled with urine or bleach.

“Once people start breaking windows, causing property damage and throwing things at the officers, they’re going to respond, and what they did was they used chemical agents in the form of pepper balls or tear gas, and they also used projectiles," Salame said.

A window was shattered at the Whataburger on Commerce St. TPR is not aware of any other businesses that were damaged Tuesday night.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg responded to the use of wooden bullets, which he condemned.

The Mayor's Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment from TPR.

In response to an appearance from Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar at the beginning of the march, demonstrator Lexi Quaiyyim said that some officers seem to want to help.

"Yes, there are police officers in this country who don’t deserve the badges that they have. It’s clear to everyone, but we cannot just completely disregard them. If there are officers that want to join us and want to help us in our cause, we must accept them with open arms," Quaiyyim said.

But Quaiyyim explained that there can only be positive results if there is drastic change within the policing system.

"Yeah, there are good cops, but they're silent. And they're not holding the bad cops accountable, and they need to, and we need to change this entire system. We can't have them investigating themselves and finding that they themselves did nothing wrong. That makes no sense."

Another protestor, Delante Armstrong, said it's important to continue to be vocal against police brutality.

"We're here to educate and make people smarter. Because knowledge is power, the less knowledge we have, the more stupid we act, those rioters? Not educated. So we educate them so people won't be rioters. We educate to stop the violence. We educate, so we're heard. We educate so that way we can finally have justice. That's all we want. We just want justice."

Armstrong said protests will continue until there is justice and equality for Black people.

"Equality means I can walk out of my house without being scared of being stopped by a Bexar County sheriff. I can walk to the store and get a pack of Skittles like Trayvon Martin and know that I'm gonna make it home at night. Equality means that I can drive down the highway and a cop not automatically assume that it's a f—ing stolen car."

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

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