SAN ANTONIO - The Alamo City confronted a controversy over a Confederate monument at Travis Park. Those opposed and in favor of getting rid of the statue filled the park to protest on Saturday.
San Antonio police said 20-year-old Michael Murphy was charged with a Class C misdemeanor on an assault charge. He was involved in a group that supported the movement of the statue.
An estimated 500 protesters were involved in Saturday’s event. Some of them were armed.
Although there were no reported injuries, tensions ran high during the rally, with many protesters shouting “take it down.”
"This is honoring the dead,” said Weldon Cabaniss, who supports keeping the monument.
“This statue was put up as a reminder of oppression,” said Diamond Mason, who opposes it.
The protesters clashed over what should be done with the monument, which was erected in 1899. The statue appears to be a Confederate soldier. The words on it read “Lest We Forget” and “Our Confederate Dead."
City Councilmen Robert Trevino, of District 1, and William Cruz Shaw, of District 2, have filed a council consideration request for the removal of the monument. They said Confederate statues such as this one are “a daily reminder not of our history, but rather our legacy of subjugation."
Trevino and Shaw’s request calls for moving the monument to a place where it can be integrated into an educational context. The first hearing on the request will likely come next month.
The group This is Texas Freedom Force organized the rally to keep the monument in place, saying it honors veterans.
“So they are a veteran, just like any other — Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam. They're all veterans,” said Brandon Burkhart, vice president of This is Texas Freedom Force.
Some argued for preserving history.
“If you erase history, what happens? We're destined to repeat it. That's happened throughout our history,” said William Smith, who supports keeping the monument.
Counterprotesters at the demonstration organized by activist group SATX4 want it gone.
"This was a sign to black people in San Antonio that this space did not welcome them. This space was not for them,” said James Finley, an SATX4 member.
“Your heritage is a heritage of hate, so it doesn't belong here. There's no other way to put that,” said Johnathan-David Jones, with SATX4.
San Antonio police and Park Police made sure to keep the two sides apart and barricaded off different corners of the park.
When the monument protesters tried to march, police blocked them off, showing some of the manpower that was available. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus would not give the exact number of officers at the park, but the department had been planning for the event since it was mentioned on social media.
"You've got two emotional sides here, and we wanted to make sure that each side had an opportunity to demonstrate, to protest. We wanted to make sure it remained peaceful,” McManus said.
KSAT crews did not see the two groups clash physically, but the lone arrest followed a confrontation as police tried to block some anti-monument protesters with bikes.
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