SAN ANTONIO – Large crowds of protesters took to the streets of downtown San Antonio on Saturday following the death of George Floyd, and parts of the city were damaged in their wake.
Now, city leaders are urging peace among protesters.
The protest first began at 5 p.m. Saturday at Travis Park in downtown San Antonio, before moving to the San Antonio Public Safety headquarters and then on to the Alamo.
Mayor Nirenberg said he is disappointed in the result of what was once a peaceful protest among San Antonians.
“What started out as a righteous demonstration has devolved for a few folks out there and I hope everyone downtown realizes that this is their city, too," Nirenberg said. “It is disappointing that a few folks are taking advantage of what has been a very peaceful demonstration all day today. But these are contingencies that we always plan for and take control of.”
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus held a briefing prior to the protest and said the police department and downtown businesses were ready for the protest, even if the circumstances escalated.
Bouts of graffiti, damaged windows to the Rivercenter Mall and more were seen downtown as protesters began to disperse from authorities.
Nirenberg said what started as a movement that allowed San Antonians to exercise their First Amendment rights has transformed into something else entirely.
“Obviously, the protest and the message and the exercise of the First Amendment rights that was happening during the day, that event is over. This is something different,” Nirenberg said. “There’s some great restraint being taken right now to make sure nothing gets out of hand.”
District 1 City Councilman Roberto Treviño also issued a statement on the downtown protest and said he encourages respect and peace among protesters.
“I am aware of the situation unfolding in downtown San Antonio. The organization, This is The Texas Freedom Force, is NOT affiliated with any security or support to the San Antonio Police Department and we do not condone any of the illegal actions taking place in the effort of the peaceful protest this evening,” Treviño said. “I encourage everyone to respect all those exercising their rights in the peaceful protest intended to bring awareness to yet another unjustified death to a black civilian.”
Treviño is asking for San Antonio to come together and set an example of a peaceful protest, despite the violent protests that have happened around the nation.
“With the current state of the multiple events happening across our country, I ask that our San Antonio community be an example of what a safe and peaceful gathering of solidarity is to be,” Treviño said. “George Floyd’s death has impacted many across the U.S. and as a minority majority city. San Antonio grieves alongside all those who’ve been witness to and have firsthand experienced discriminatory behavior.”