SAN ANTONIO – Mayor Ron Nirenberg delivered an impassioned speech to George Floyd protesters Thursday at the Bexar County Courthouse, telling them to hold him accountable for changes that need to be made in San Antonio.
“I’m asking you to hold me accountable … nobody else," Nirenberg told the crowd. “We hear you. We know there needs to be change."
Holding back emotions, Nirenberg addressed the crowd after a city council meeting that was filled with tension from activists shouting “Black Lives Matter.” It was during the meeting that a black man was shouting at the mayor, who then allowed the man to address the council. The man asked the mayor if he would address the crowd protesting for the sixth consecutive day in San Antonio.
“I’m here because Pharoah (J. Clark) was kind enough to walk me up here to tell you and to show you that he and I will be working to every single day until everybody goes home and feels like they don’t have to fight for something that God gave them to begin with, which is the freedom to feel safe in their own community, to feel protected by the people who work for them, whether they work in ties or work in uniforms or work in anything else," Nirenberg said.
The mayor told the protesters he ran for the city’s top office because he wanted change. He said a lot has gotten accomplished, but there are plenty of things left undone. He cautioned the crowd that change will not come easy.
“I know that you know very well that it’s not going to be easy, and the frustrations are not going to end tonight, or maybe even next week, so long as we see examples across the country of why the system is still broken," Nirenberg said. “But if I have a prayer tonight, it’s that once again, San Antonio, which we have a great tradition of doing, can be a birthplace of a great national movement. When we come together, and we look evil in its face, we turn it back and we make something beautiful together."
Nirenberg said he wants to put an end to what he called “systemic prejudice that lines our systems from top to bottom.”
He thanked the protesters for having the courage to stand up for what they believe in and ended the speech by telling the crowd for them to forget about mistakes that they or police or politicians have made and to hold him accountable.
“Because I’m the mayor of this goddamn city and we’re going to make change together, OK,” he said to cheers.