Editor’s note: This story contains a number of obscenities, including a common vulgarity most often aimed at women. Although we generally avoid publishing such language in the San Antonio Report, we chose to represent these words in dashed form because they’re central to the story.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Sheriff Javier Salazar.
Commissioner Trish DeBerry (Pct. 3) discovered the meaning of an internet acronym after it was directed at her earlier this month: “APAC,” which stands for “all politicians are c—s.”
Jarred Taylor, one of the co-founders of Black Rifle Coffee Company, a Utah-based veteran-owned business with locations in San Antonio, used the acronym in a June 3 Instagram post that showed him and fellow co-founder Mat Best presenting Sheriff Javier Salazar with a giant check for $32,000.
“You want to talk about garbage politicians? Let’s talk about @trishforcommish our county commissioner that sat and mocked our Sheriff when he asked for funds to purchase a rescue johnboat [sic] for the Bexar County Sheriff’s department. … Good luck during the next election season, because I will be making my own ads free of charge for you 😜#APAC,” Taylor wrote as the photo’s caption.
Underneath Taylor’s Instagram post, more than 800 comments praised his words: “Hilarious,” “Eat shish @trishforcommish,” “This is f—ing awesome.” DeBerry’s Instagram account received even more aggressive comments and direct messages.
“All politicians are c—s,” one user wrote in a direct message. “You are a piece of [s—] for mocking your sheriffs.”
“You’re a piece of s— of a human,” another wrote.
“Stupid Garbage C—,” another message said.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff urged Salazar Monday to call out “one of the ugliest and most blatant displays of sexism and personal attacks” he said he’s ever seen, in a letter released publicly Monday.
“It is beyond reprehensible when community leaders encourage such behavior for political purposes,” Wolff wrote to Salazar. “More importantly, what does it say when other community leaders ignore that behavior and allow it to continue publicly without uniting in condemnation of it?”
Read Wolff’s letter to Salazar here.
On Monday afternoon, Salazar released a statement saying he saw Wolff’s letter and understood the county judge’s “stance.”
“The first I saw of any specific comments regarding this issue were the ones apparently cut and pasted into Judge Wolff’s letter. We are in the process of preparing a follow up presentation regarding a patrol/rescue boat to Commissioner’s Court, which will not be at tax-payer expense,” Salazar said in a prepared statement. “The unfortunate area drowning deaths being reported on as I write this—illustrate our need for this lifesaving equipment in Bexar County.”
Taylor’s Instagram post was referring to an April 6 commissioners meeting during which Salazar requested approval of a $20,000 donation from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Foundation to buy a rescue boat. Commissioners ultimately voted to delay the item until Salazar briefed them on how exactly the money would be used and his plans to maintain the boat. The discussion got fiery after DeBerry said it was insensitive to spend that much money on a “shiny new toy” instead of directing that funding toward jail deputy recruitment and retention.
“My feeling is really this boat is a ‘nice to have’, but not a ‘need to have’ right now, especially as we look at … coming out of this [pandemic],” DeBerry said during the meeting. “I would have appreciated a briefing on this so I could ask some questions. I’m going to be blunt here. I think it’s insulting and I think it’s insensitive that you’re spending $20,000 on a shiny new toy or a boat.”
At the time, Salazar attempted to pull the item entirely instead of just delaying it.
“I believe the need is there [for the boat] but when it’s used as an excuse to bring me up and attack me yet again, we’ll just kill the item,” he said.
DeBerry said during that meeting that she did not intend her questions as an attack, but as a request for more information.
“This is an opportunity for you to provide details regarding why you need this and enhance communication when you come to this court, whether it’s a gift or whether it’s asking for overtime, and letting us know why you need it,” she said in April. “That’s it.”
She repeated that reasoning Friday when describing the harassment she received from fans of Black Rifle Coffee Company. DeBerry pointed out that not only is she the only Republican on commissioners court, but also received the endorsement of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County and the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association when running for her seat.
“Just because you’re a law enforcement officer doesn’t mean that you should not be held accountable for your actions, whether it’s an expenditure [or] a lawsuit filed against the county,” she said.
DeBerry said she was shocked to see how many messages her account received and angry about the misogynistic nature of the barrage. As someone with experience in crisis communications, DeBerry said she originally wanted to ignore the messages.
“I just was like, ‘Look, I’m not, we’re not responding because I don’t respond to trash,’” she said. “I mean, anybody that would call a woman a” — here she spelled out the offending term — “which, I hate that word — obviously doesn’t have every marble.”
After Wolff found out about the harassment DeBerry was receiving online, however, he urged her to fill out a police report and document it all with the District Attorney office’s criminal investigation division, which she began last week. Many of the messages seemed to come from outside of Bexar County, DeBerry noted, but she still pulled her address off the Bexar County Appraisal District listing in an attempt to keep her family safe.
In his letter Monday, Wolff said he would support Salazar’s request for a boat using Bexar County funding if the sheriff can provide details on the operation, liability, maintenance, storage, and staffing costs related to having a rescue boat. But he said he would not vote to accept the coffee company’s donation.
“Because the Black Rifle Coffee Company initiated the horrific attack on Commissioner DeBerry,” he wrote, “I will oppose the expenditure of Black Rifle Coffee Company funds for the boat or any other use for county purposes.”