SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio activist who has organized peaceful protests and made strides in registering demonstrators to vote said Gov. Greg Abbott’s proposals aimed at creating stiffer penalties for those who riot and loot at protests are proof that Black lives don’t matter to him.
Valerie Reiffert, who founded the voter registration group Radical Registrars, feels legislation needs to be created to better protect the public against police officers who abuse their power.
Reiffert said she understands how rioters and looters distract from the message of the Black Lives Matter movement. Still, she says ignoring the reason behind the demonstrations that have sometimes been transformed by violence is harming society.
“I do not condone rioting or looting. But what I also don’t condone is this habitual and constant repetition of history,” Reiffert said.
Abbott is proposing legislation that would intensify punishments for violent and destructive actions at protests, including assaulting police and blocking hospitals.
Reiffert says addressing one result of the issue and not the root problem won’t lead to equitable solutions and a society where everyone feels included.
“This keeps happening — generation after generation. And Governor Abbott is choosing to turn a blind eye as to why people are out here, you know, doing these things,” Reiffert said.
Reiffert believes new legislative proposals centered around current events need to address ways to help outraged communities heal and improve people’s trust in government systems.
“Well, the people who need the harsher laws and punishments is law enforcement. They are clearly taking advantage,” Reiffert said.
The governor’s ideas are currently legislative proposals, which means before they become actionable, the state House and Senate must pass the bills before the governor signs them off.