S.A.'s free speech ordinance under review after Travis Park protests

District 1 City Council Representative Roberto Trevino says that the city's free speech ordinance needs to be updated.

SAN ANTONIO - Local free speech advocates have come up with a list of changes they want to see to the city's ordinance related to public expression of opinions.

The ordinance is under review after a request was filed by District 1 City Council Representative Roberto Trevino.

"We want to make free speech very accessible to everyone, accessible to the smallest of organizations and not be cumbersome when somebody wants to express some of the issues we're seeing more and more these days," Councilman Trevino said.

"We want San Antonio to be a leader in the democratic process and currently, as it stands, we are the worst in the restrictive policies for protesting and marching," said Gianna Rendon of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.

"We want to fix the ambiguity. That's No. 1," said Trevino, who added that the city attorney is taking public input on the matter. "We directed our city attorney, Andy Segovia, who is digging deeper, to work with stake holders like the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center to have a more robust discussion about what are some of the concerns. We want a community that is open and accessible to all."

Advocates for change complain that the information about permits is not posted online, the rules are not applied uniformly, and they insist that applications for rallies should not be administered by police.

"That can be a problem for the immigrant community, the undocumented community, as well as people of color and people that feel threatened by police," Rendon said.

"We're willing to talk. We're willing to be honest with one another and I think in the end we'll come out better for it," said Trevino, who noted that there is no rush to complete the review and he wants changes to the ordinance to stand the test of time. "We hope calmer minds will prevail."

San Antonio police would not comment on the cost related to the recent protests over the proposed removal of a Confederate monument in Travis Park, saying that the exact numbers are a tactical matter they will not reveal for safety's sake.

But the issue of free speech and public safety will continue to occupy the headlines. Representatives from This is Texas Freedom Force have said that they will continue to send armed representatives to Citizens to be Heard sessions on Wednesdays until this issue is resolved.

Additionally, next Wednesday, a coalition of local groups is planning a counter rally at city council. The "San Antonio Stands Against White Supremacy" rally is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

A Facebook post about the event reads as follows:

We are seeking the community of San Antonio to "Stand Against White Supremacy." We ask for you to join us as we stand in solidarity with all the victims of White Supremacy since 1492. From then until now, this country has been torn apart through a vicious cycle of violence, exploitation, and oppression for the profit, protection, and preservation of White Supremacy.

We are taking a stand on Wednesday to call out white supremacy in all of its forms. Symbols such as the confederate monument in Travis Park, are but a reminder of what white supremacy looks like. Men and women of varying ethnic backgrounds dressed in military gear and carrying long assault rifles are a reminder of how white supremacy acts when threatened.

We will stand against fear. We will stand against intimidation. We will stand with and like the community of Charlottesville, Durham, Dallas. We will stand against white supremacy.

Join us 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 30th at City Council Chambers. While SAPD will remain silent, we will not allow a group of armed militia to continue to harass our council members or our citizens in the name of protecting racist who in turn seek to protect and perpetuate white supremacy.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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