SAN ANTONIO – Photos from the first few hours of the massive demonstration in San Antonio on Saturday show the strong messages sent peacefully by those in attendance.
More than 1,000 people gathered at Travis Park in downtown on Saturday around 5 p.m. to march in solidarity with demonstrators across the country and globe to protest against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd.
Attendees carried signs like “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace" as speakers led the crowd in “We can’t breathe,” chants.
Floyd was killed as a Minnesota police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while detaining him for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. A video of the encounter shows bystanders and Floyd begging the officer to get off of his neck. The video sent shockwaves through a country already gripped by an international pandemic and economic crisis.
In San Antonio, the crowd quickly swelled to thousands as marchers, most donning masks, walked more than a mile to Public Safety Headquarters.
No crowd estimates have been provided by police, but several thousand could be seen marching in the streets of downtown from the Sky 12 livestream.
Protesters ranged from children to senior citizens and included people of different races and ethnicities.
Some wore shirts with the names of people who have been killed by police in the United States.
As night fell, the crowd slowly shrank and hundreds of protesters took to the Alamo, where another group of armed demonstrators had been posted most of Saturday.
That group said they were “protecting” the Alamo after overnight vandals sprayed graffiti on the downtown Texas landmark.
Thousands are marching in San Antonio as part of the #GeorgeFloydProtests— Kolten Parker (@KoltenParker) May 31, 2020
Peaceful so far - I’m watching a miles-long line of protesters march toward police headquarters from the @ksatnews aerial livestream: https://t.co/O87eKRmaOY pic.twitter.com/lubEwxrTSE
A mostly peaceful confrontation began near the Alamo between police and the two separate groups of demonstrators.
Eventually, as tension grew, some “agitators” flung rocks and fire extinguishers through storefront windows at Rivercenter Mall and a few scuffles broke out, officials said at a late-night press conference.
Police fired tear gas and pepper and rubber bullets, according to SAPD Chief William McManus.
After a few hours, dozens of windows had been smashed throughout the popular tourist area of downtown, three people had been arrested and three San Antonio police officers had been injured, McManus said.
Still, city leaders said the damage was notable for a city known for having relatively sleepy protests, but nothing compared to the destruction seen in some other cities in the U.S. on Saturday.
Breaking — Another round of tear gas is being deployed on Alamo Street in San Antonio. pic.twitter.com/yNziNHYnAS— Silvia Foster-Frau (@SilviaElenaFF) May 31, 2020
A curfew and disaster declaration were issued late Saturday night and will be in effect through Monday morning, McManus said.
As of around 1:30 a.m., most pockets of disturbances had been eased by police.
Freelance journalist Andrew Salinero snapped shots of the crowd in the early evening.
Watch city leaders respond to Saturday’s protest in the press conference below: