SAN ANTONIO – As San Antonio enters day nine of protests in wake of George Floyd’s death, Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined Leading SA to talk about the collaboration between local leaders and demonstrators.
“They have every right to be there, that their message is being heard loud and clear. Those folks that are peacefully assembled, we’re proud of you because the call for reform is something that people need to hear. And, we’re proud of the way they’re doing it,” Nirenberg said.
On Thursday, the mayor made an impassioned speech with an interesting choice of words that viewers wrote to us about with concerns.
“It was a moment of emotion for everyone out there. Of course, I got a little passionate myself. There’s been an airing of frustrations nationwide that you’ve seen and certainly that came to city council last Thursday. But, this is not a moment to forget,” Nirenberg said.
Nirenberg said this movement sparked by Floyd’s death is a moment in history that is all about lasting change.
“You know, that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much anger out there is that people have been calling for reforms for years and years and years. And it ends up being, you know, sucked into the bureaucracy of city governments and federal and state governments all across this country. And so, we need to hear that frustration, understand what it is. It’s a call for justice. It’s a call for reform and what we need to do is speak directly to it and act upon it,” Nirenberg said.
Going forward, Nirenberg said he and other local leaders are listening and working with protesters to make changes to city policies, even when it comes to cutting part of the police department’s budget, which is something protesters are calling for.
“This whole call for defunding police, that’s what it’s about. It’s about examining how we allocate our resources that we can truly build healthy, safe communities everywhere. And that’s a message worth hearing in this city hall, in city halls across the country,” Nirenberg said.
We also spoke to Nirenberg on the $191 million Recovery and Resiliency Plan that was approved Thursday by city council. The plan will provide job training, rental assistance, and small business grants, among other programs, for residents struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nirenberg said the impact of the pandemic has taken a toll not just on the city’s economy, but also tourism. However, he said the city is making progress and is in the process of recovering.
“We’ve had a collapse of our tourism and hospitality industry, primarily because it relies on visitor traffic and that is going to take some time to recover. And, we don’t know if it’s going to recover in the next few years because people are going to be slow to get back to the normal levels of traveling. We’ll come back. To what extent and how soon remains to be seen," Nirenberg said. “But, you know, across the board sectors have had to slow down because supply chains have slowed, international activity has slowed. But we’re starting to see some recovery and that’s good news.”
City staff members will work with city council committees through the rest of June to develop implementation plans, beginning July 1.