More than 200 protesters sat somberly Saturday night focused on Reverends William Knight and Naomi Brown of Metropolitan Community Church as they stood on the steps of a gazebo in Crockett Park decorated with flags symbolic for LGBTQIA causes. Together, the two read the names of black and transgender people who were killed by police.
First, they named the men San Antonio police officers killed. Marquise Jones. Charles “Chop” Roundtree. Antronie Scott.
Then they said the names of black people killed in other parts of the country. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Philando Castile.
Knitting together the issues that brought the crowd together for a Queer Black Lives Matter vigil, the reverends listed names of trans individuals killed by the police. Neulisa Luciano Ruiz. Yampi Méndez Arocho. Monika Diamond.
After each name was read, the crowd responded “Say their names.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined the group, passing the flame of his short, white vigil candle to another guest. Less than an hour before the reverends spoke, the mayor pledged to listen and act.
“I know that you don’t want any more speeches, you want action,” Nirenberg said. “I recognize that there is an amazing intersection of activities and movements here tonight. People have fought too hard for LGBTQ rights in this community.
“People have been fighting very hard to make sure that we can say truly that black lives matter in this community. People all over this world do not speak up for black trans rights amd that is true in this community as well. And I’ll be working everyday to make sure you are represented well in this city and we get that changed together.”
As Nirenberg stepped away from the gazebo stairs, the crowd broke into chants of “Reopen the cases!” and “Defund the police!”
Following the vigil, Nirenberg said his “understanding is that the [district attorney] would open a case if there is new information that is brought forward.”
Protesters began the day’s event at the Bexar County Courthouse with about a dozen speakers addressing the crowd from the red brick steps, calling on those present to remember the current national movement includes all black lives.
“We are all black, we all matter,” said Tristdon Mays, who identified himself as a black, gay man.
Ananda Tomas, who helped organize the day’s events, recounted the murders of Roundtree, Jones, and Scott. As she spoke, fliers circulated in the plaza with directions on how to call Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales.
In the ensuing hours, signs and chants would carry the message “Joe has got to go.”
Several speakers also encouraged protesters to register to vote and cast ballots in local elections so they could weigh in on issues like future DA’s races.
Afterward, protesters marched to Crockett Park near San Antonio College, calling, “Black lives matter. Black men matter. Black women matter. Black trans [lives] matter. Black children matter.”
Crossing under the freeway, cars honked and the rush of traffic threatened to drown out the protesters. The volume of marchers’ cries swelled in response.
After reaching the park, protesters socialized with one another, dancing to music played by a DJ, while they waited for speakers to arrive.
Retired civil rights attorney James Myart was one of those who spoke. He stood before the crowd to declare solidarity with the LGBTQIA movement and delivered news of the death of Rayshard Brooks, another unarmed black man, in Atlanta.
While many speakers expressed despair over killings past and present, several signaled hope because of those gathered together Saturday night and previous days.
“On a daily basis, I cry because I have never seen this before,” Myart said. “Eighteen [year-olds], 19 [year-olds], 20 [year-olds], black, white, brown standing in solidarity together for the injustices that all of us endure at the hands of our powerful politicians.”