As Sunday evening set in, Justin McCarter sat spray-painting in the parking lot outside The Vaulti, a vintage and streetwear resale shop. Over the tops of skateboards, pants, and T-shirts, McCarter placed a stencil in the shape of a raised fist, denoting the Black Lives Matter movement.
In quick strokes, he colored in the slanted lines of fingers on the fist and the long lines of the forearm. In less than an hour, he ran out of spray paint.
A little after 6 p.m., McCarter and more than a hundred skaters rolled onto North Main Avenue headed south toward downtown. In a loud rush, wheels hit the road and protesters called out “black lives matter” on the 16th day of protests following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“I wanted to come here because I’m a skater and this is my community,” McCarter said. “I’m black, I’m a human being, and I made this stencil so that I could get the message out easily. … I’m here because the revolution will be televised.”
Nadia Perales stood next to McCarter at the evening protest at Travis Park, describing the skater community as open and united. She said the two wanted to bring their boards and march with their friends at the event, dubbed Roll in Peace.
They heard about the protest on Twitter and Instagram from posts Jonathan Sheridan helped send out four days ago. Sheridan decided last week that he wanted to help organize a march and talked with friends about how to get it started. Together, they created a flyer and began tweeting, drawing about 200 Sunday evening.
For Sheridan, the cause is personal. He said he has witnessed close family members and friends become the victims of police violence in San Antonio.
Scott was 36 when he was shot and killed by a San Antonio police officer in 2016 after being pulled over at an apartment complex. Scott’s widow and mother filed separate lawsuits that have since been consolidated against the San Antonio Police Department. A March court date was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jones, 23, was killed by a San Antonio Police Department officer outside a restaurant in 2014. A grand jury declined to indict the officer who killed Jones, clearing him of criminal wrongdoing. Jones’ family pursued a civil suit alleging excessive and unnecessary deadly force, but a jury ruled against the family.
“I was there from when my aunt got the phone call until we put him in the casket, until we put him in the ground, until the very last court case,” Sheridan said. “Until the tweet I saw on Twitter to find out they would never open the case even though Mayor Ivy Taylor and the police department said they were going to do everything they could.”
Recent protests recalled the details of Jones’ killing. His case and others have served as a rallying cry for those in the local Black Lives Matter movement.
Even though Sunday was Sheridan’s first time on a skate board – something he learned was a full-body workout – he was glad to include a community he felt hadn’t been specifically invited to join the movement previously.
“Skaters have always been the outcasts and now the outcasts are advocating for headline news,” Sheridan said. “If the outcasts, the people y’all counted out, can be out here, there’s absolutely no reason for the rest of us [to not be.]”
Speakers stood before protesters in the Travis Park circle addressing their peers, at first by bullhorn and later over a PA system.
After each person finished addressing the crowd, skaters crashed their boards into the stone pathways, the clanging echoing throughout the park.
Young students often stepped forward to the microphone, and 17-year-old Camren Moreno was one of those who felt compelled to speak.
Moreno, a student at Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District’s Steele High School, said he was the same age as Trayvon Martin when he was killed in 2012 by George Zimmerman in Florida. Martin was 17.
Gesturing at friends who had accompanied him to Sunday’s event, Moreno became emotional.
“We’ve got to make sure there’s never another generation of kids who share the same pain as us,” Moreno said. “I can’t imagine what I would do if the same thing happened to them.”