SAN ANTONIO – The community cleanup that followed havoc downtown on Saturday night “made you proud to be a San Antonian,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in an event to thank those who volunteered the following day.
Nirenberg, along with Centro San Antonio CEO Matt Brown and Assistant City Manager David McCary, echoed comments about unity and compassion as local businesses reeled from graffiti, broken windows and looting.
The 90-120 minute rampage followed an otherwise peaceful protest on Saturday that honored George Floyd, whose death has set off demonstrations across the globe.
A total of 28 downtown sites had graffiti, including La Villita, the River Walk and the Hemisfair, and an estimated 39 businesses had windows broken.
The destruction caused dozens of people, including Spurs guard Lonnie Walker, to head to the downtown area to clean up the mess on Sunday morning. Community members were armed with trash bags, paint brushes and brooms, while other volunteers gave out free food and water bottles.
McCary said by 9 a.m. trash had already been removed.
“We didn’t hesitate and we didn’t miss a beat,” he said. “It’s always about the response. I couldn’t be prouder of San Antonio, our city."
Nirenberg added that Saturday night’s violence did not reflect the community, but those who made it out Sunday morning “made you proud.”
“They had brooms, they had trash bags, and they had compassion in their hearts,” he said, adding that it “clears the canvass” for the community to discuss the unrest across the country.
If a business still needs help with graffiti removal, the city says to call 311. City officials have not released a damage estimate.
Centro SA has 100 ambassadors who work every day, Brown said. Without the community’s help, he said, employees wouldn’t have made a dent in the mess.
“It just hurt everybody, it was just so emotional.”
Demonstrations have erupted across the nation in response to Floyd’s death. For nearly a week, largely peaceful protests by day have turned to chaos at night.
President Donald Trump vowed to send in troops to “dominate the streets" if governors don’t crackdown on protesters.