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San Antonio civil rights activist arrested in the 1960s supporting ongoing protests

Becky Brenner, arrested during demonstration near UT Austin more than 50 years ago, says problems persist

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio native who says she was arrested while fighting for justice during the civil rights movement in the 1960s said recent protests that have erupted throughout the nation prove the need to continue pushing for systemic change.

On Tuesday, there was a peaceful protest outside of the Old Bexar County Courthouse, calling for national anti-racial policies and strict actions against police brutality. The latest in a string of recent demonstrations comes following the viral video that showed Derek Chauvin, a white, former Minneapolis police officer, kneeling on the neck of a black man named George Floyd until he died.

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As seen throughout the week, on Tuesday, there were protesters of multiple nationalities banding together with signs and chants that said "Black Lives Matter" and "no justice no peace" and "no racist police." Compared to the civil rights efforts of the '60s, some say the verbiage has changed, but the reason behind the demonstrations remains the same.

“I think that so often white people are afraid and see it as they and us,” said Becky Brenner, who was an equality activist in the 1960s.

When the MacArthur High School graduate attended UT Austin in the '60s, she said she noticed racial injustices throughout the South. As a white woman pushing for equality, she said she vividly remembers being arrested during an incident near the school.

“There was a huge demonstration where a gas station filling station had discriminated, somehow treated a black student really bad. And so, oh man, there were hundreds of us that blocked this filling station driveway. And we all got arrested that day for trespassing,” Brenner said.

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Brenner said recent protests nationwide, both violent and peaceful, that followed the death of another unarmed black person in police custody prove there is a widespread belief that racial inequality is still plaguing the nation.

“We've learned to accept what our government does in our name to people of color,” Brenner said.

It's a problem she says is preventing progress for all, even those indirectly impacted by bias against historically underserved communities.

“We would all have a better life if there weren't the pockets of poverty that exist in our city. If everyone got a good education and went on to college instead of having to pursue other ways to survive, we would all be happier,” Brenner said.

More protests are planned for the near future. Protesters say they’ll continue until policies are put in place.

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