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San Antonians, city crews clean up downtown destruction caused by ‘bad actors’

Chief McManus says situation was escalated by those with violent intentions

SAN ANTONIO – The chaos across downtown San Antonio began after the planned demonstration to protest police brutality and the death of George Floyd wrapped up at Public Safety Headquarters Saturday evening.

Dozens of businesses’ storefronts were destroyed overnight, leaving a lot to clean up.

In an overnight press conference, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said, “the situation was escalated by some bad actors whose only intent was to incite violence and cause destruction.”

By 5 o’clock Sunday morning, KSAT 12 photographers captured individuals armed with brooms, trash bags, gloves and trash cans to help restore what others destroyed.

RELATED: Photos show evolution of San Antonio protest over police brutality, George Floyd’s killing

Christine De la Cruz said she woke up early because she felt anxious about what she had seen unfold on live TV hours before.

“I got ready and brought my own supplies,” De La Cruz said. “I brought a whole bunch of trash bags, my 45-gallon trash can, a broom, dustpan, and got some gloves because I figured there was going to be a lot of glass.”

Off of East Houston Street near the Alamo, two of the businesses with the most damage included Rocket Fizz and Mar Imports Silver Jewelry. The storefront windows were seen completely shattered. De La Cruz, along with other volunteers, swept up all the glass along the sidewalk as well as inside the businesses filling up trash bag after trash bag.

“This is the (sixth bag),” De La Cruz said. “It's just a lot of glass.”

Within minutes, the areas were left clean.

Storefront windows were seen completely shattered across downtown. Volunteers helped swept up glass along the sidewalk as well as inside the businesses filling up trash bag after trash bag.
Storefront windows were seen completely shattered across downtown. Volunteers helped swept up glass along the sidewalk as well as inside the businesses filling up trash bag after trash bag. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Around the corner on Losoya Street, civilians worked overnight to clean up trash and glass. Affected store owners said some community members helped guard their business to avoid looting.

Along Commerce Street, Rivercenter Mall, IHOP, the Torch of Friendship statue, Schilo’s restaurant and Whataburger were all vandalized with graffiti and windows shattered. Schilo’s general manager, Digo Ramos, told KSAT 12 a lot of their liquor had been stolen overnight.

Although many are left frustrated dealing with the damages, business owners like Lawrence said they’re not discouraged.

Lawrence, who preferred not to disclose his last name, said he manages the building on East Houston Street that houses some of the most affected businesses. He said he takes comfort in witnessing how many people showed up Sunday morning to help shops open back up.

“This is the story,” Lawrence said. “(This) is what San Antonio is. It's not that, you know, individuals going around stirring the pot. We're all going to rebuild, and it's just going to get better. It's that simple.”

By 10 a.m. Sunday, most of the damage had been cleaned up by volunteers and employees from Centro San Antonio.

The City of San Antonio employees have also made headway in the citywide cleanup efforts.

All traffic signals are working, city crews are repairing or replacing damaged signage throughout downtown, trash receptacles are being emptied and graffiti is being power washed and painted over, officials said.

The city has also removed outdoor furniture and scooters have been off of public streets.

The next step for downtown stores is to board up all windows in case agitators violate the city’s curfew that starts again at 10 o’clock Sunday night and ends at 6 o’clock Monday morning.

A violation of the curfew can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

RELATED: Peaceful protest over George Floyd’s death erupts into violence in downtown San Antonio


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