The City of San Antonio will close Alamo Plaza Monday from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., mayor spokesman Bruce Davidson said. This is the third consecutive night parts of the City have been closed in an attempt to stem the unrest that followed protests in downtown San Antonio.
The late-hour decision came after San Antonio Police Chief William McManus asked the mayor to close the area out of an “abundance of caution,” Davidson said. This is not an official curfew, like the ones that were set on Saturday and Sunday night after Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued a local disaster declaration.
Nirenberg imposed the curfews after protests in honor of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last Monday, escalated on Saturday and led to vandalism downtown and some businesses sustaining damage. Sunday brought more peaceful protests in Travis Park that were disbanded before the evening curfew.
On Monday, early day protests morphed into conversations between protestors and law enforcement officials beginning with a group gathered on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse to march to City Hall. Those participants wore face masks and held signs that read “I can’t breathe” and “Stop killing us,” as they engaged in a round-robin chant of “Say his name” and “George Floyd” while they walked.
Sheriff Javier Salazar held an impromptu conversation with about 30 protestors at the courthouse Monday afternoon as they asked how people within the sheriff’s department can report fellow officers and what mental health and professional education resources deputies have.
One protester challenged Salazar on officer training, wondering if his officers would draw their weapon on her if she reacted in anger to being pulled over and did not know why.
“I’m scared to … death for my baby brothers, who are all black,” the protester said. “I’m afraid that even if they speak out … because this is the way of the country, we can’t even say anything without being scared.”
Salazar asked her for suggestions. “How many hours [of training] is the ideal? … I’d be willing to engage in some sort of dialogue with you, but 40 hours a year is what we can do at this point.”
Salazar assured them that psychological testing of deputies starts when the sheriff’s office selects applicants and highlighted his hiring of the agency’s psychologist who started in 2019.
“[Officers] are regularly evaluated – kind of on an as-needed basis, unless they’re involved in something like a critical incident,” Salazar said.
He also touted his office’s diversity.
“My agency is overwhelmingly minority officers … we should look like y’all, is basically what it comes down to,” Salazar said.
After about half an hour of conversation, protesters and Salazar marched with one another as the protesters shouted “Black lives matter!” They circled the courthouse together before parting ways, with protesters marching on to the San Antonio Police headquarters. Police Chief William McManus spoke briefly to a few protesters while others organized a lie-in in front of the building Monday afternoon.
Photographer Bonnie Arbittier contributed to this report.