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Council members raise fists in solidarity with police reform advocates

All council members except D10 Clayton Perry raised a fist or took a knee during discussion on union contract priorities

San Antonio – Almost all of the San Antonio City Council members raised fists in solidarity with police reform advocates at a meeting Thursday.

The moment came after Kimiya Denise, an activist who signed up to speak to the council, invoked the names of several men killed by San Antonio police officers in recent years.

“Before I speak, I want to yield one minute to the lives of Charles Roundtree, Marquise Jones, Antronie Scott, Norman Cooper,” Denise said. “And city council, I am calling on you to raise a fist or take a knee if you stand in solidarity with us today.”

Almost all of the council members could be seen raising their fists during the the moment of silence. District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval appeared to kneel, and District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez, who was attending remotely and whose screen was not easily visible in the video KSAT took, told KSAT he also raised his fist.

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District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry was the only council member not to do either, saying after the meeting that he paid his respects by bowing his head, instead.

The moment came during a council meeting, in which Denise and more than 20 others spoke in favor of various reforms, including: de-funding the police department, repealing a pair of state laws that helped form the current police union contract, and holding bad cops accountable.

“Telling a racist to not kill black people, knowing that he does not have repercussions for those actions is not helpful to this community,” said Jordan Jeaux Parks.

Though many council members have been vocally supportive of the aims of recent demonstrations, there was still an air of frustration as speakers urged them to take action.

“If you truly cared and wanted to make a change, you would put together some things that would make a change now, impact now,” Pharoah Clark told council members.

The council members were considering a resolution outlining priorities for discussions with the San Antonio Police Officer Association for the next union contract. The current collective bargaining agreement lasts through September 2021, and negotiations are expected to start in January.

The council agreed to hold onto the resolution until August to work on it more. The current draft focuses largely on the discipline process, like eliminating the 180-day limit on imposing discipline and changing the current arbitration process.

City Council traditionally takes a break from public meetings during July as city staff prepare the next year’s budget. A proposed budget for FY 2021 is expected to be unveiled Aug. 6 and a final budget approved on Aug. 17.

Some of the speakers criticized the council for the upcoming break, though council members and the mayor said that doesn’t mean they are going anywhere.

“Meetings are happening. Conversations are happening. The work is continuing,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg told media members after the council meeting.

The council members will meet Friday for a goal-setting session to help shape the upcoming budget proposal. The meeting will be live-streamed on the city website and its Facebook page.

Residents can provide input into the budget process at www.SASpeakUp.com.

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