There is no shortage of deep wounds in our nation’s history and countless examples of instances where ordinary people have had to shape a more just society. When those in positions of leadership are swayed by the influence of particular interests, it falls to the community to assume the mantle of leadership.
Proposition A on the May 6 ballot is a policy that addresses the regressive and counterproductive exploitation of fear and lack of action in San Antonio. Our law enforcement agencies are meant to serve and protect us — all of us. It is time to join many communities across the country and focus on solutions with policy that serves the greater good.
Justice for all must be reflected in our policies for law enforcement agencies. They should have the tools and training they need to carry out their duties safely and effectively, but we must also recognize that the overuse of our police forces has only served to escalate tensions and undermine the necessary trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
The possession and use of small amounts of marijuana should no longer be a criminal offense, but rather a civil infraction or a minor offense, similar to a traffic violation. There are several reasons why decriminalization of marijuana is a good idea. It would reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, freeing up resources to tackle more serious crimes. It would also reduce the number of people who are unfairly targeted and punished for non-violent offenses. Lastly, it would allow for more focus on public health and education.
We must decriminalize abortion and ensure that everyone has access to safe, legal, and affordable reproductive health care. It is a fundamental human right to have control over one’s own body, especially in decisions regarding health and well-being. Criminalizing abortion not only puts women’s lives at risk but also perpetuates a culture of shame and stigma that further marginalizes and harms our community.
Chokeholds have been responsible for numerous deaths, particularly among marginalized populations. The excessive use of force by police officers undermines public trust in law enforcement and can exacerbate existing tensions between marginalized communities and the police. Banning chokeholds is a necessary step toward promoting safer and more accountable policing practices. The Department of Justice, many of the nation’s largest police departments and some states have already banned chokeholds, except for in life-exigent circumstances.
No-knock warrants are dangerous and allow police officers to enter a home without announcing their presence or purpose, putting officers’ and civilians’ lives at risk. These tactics undermine our fundamental right to privacy and due process and can create an atmosphere of fear and mistrust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. We must seriously restrict no-knock warrants as a necessary step towards promoting safer and more accountable policing practices, while also protecting the civil liberties of all individuals.
Cite-and-release policies help reduce the number of people who are unnecessarily incarcerated. This is particularly important for low-level offenses, such as minor drug possession or certain traffic violations, which can clog up the criminal justice system and divert resources away from more serious crimes. By issuing a citation or summons, law enforcement can hold people accountable for their actions while perpetrators can avoid the negative consequences of incarceration, such as lost wages and, disrupted family life. Since 2019, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said it has proven to decrease the likelihood of future involvement in the criminal justice system for nonviolent offenders.
In April 2020, San Marcos made history as the first city in Texas to enact a cite-and-release ordinance, which obligates police officers to issue citations. The legislation was implemented without encountering any opposition from the state. Six other cities in Texas have decriminalized marijuana using similar language as Prop A and have not faced any legal challenges. Furthermore, Austin’s Prop A, which passed successfully, has effectively banned no-knock warrants and decriminalized marijuana.
Prop A would also establish a justice director position within the city’s administration. An independent justice director would provide much-needed accountability through impact reports, guidance on policy, and mediating conversations on public safety between the community and city.
Let us have the courage to resist popular misconceptions perpetuated by misinformation and propaganda. It will require us to question widely accepted beliefs and confront uncomfortable truths, even when they may be unpopular or inconvenient. It will also involve going against powerful institutions or individuals who may be invested in maintaining the status quo. This vote is an opportunity for progress and can ultimately help create positive change in our community.
Join me in voting for Prop A.