Group wants city to ease rules on protests, demonstrations

San Antonio Free Speech Coalition says permits too expensive

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SAN ANTONIO – Members of the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition chanted outside City Hall on Wednesday, calling for city officials to ease restrictions on peaceful protests and demonstrations.

"If you're marching for immigrant rights, if you're marching for books for your school, if you're marching for education for your community, what happens is, you have to pay before you're allowed to have access to having your voice heard on the streets," coalition leader Joleen Garcia said.

Garcia and others said grassroots organizations can't afford to pay the thousands the city requires for a permit. Without it, groups can be fined or arrested. 

"I talked to them, and they told me, 'You can have the march, but it will cost you $7,000 to $10,000,'" said Sophia Sepulveda of Revolution San Antonio. "$3,000 the city will pay for, but the rest will come out of your money."

The city charges a fee to pay for shutting down streets, providing barricades and police officers. 

District 1 City Councilman Roberto Trevino is calling for the city to re-examine its policies on parades and processions after confusion sparked by protests earlier this year at San Antonio Airport over the Trump administration's immigration ban.  

"We want to be consistent. We want to provide a fair process that is equitable for every part of our community," he said.

The city attorney is looking at how the city's policies can be changed. 

The coalition wants to see all fees and fines for protests eliminated. 

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