SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Shouts of “defund police” rang out in the city council chambers Thursday as the council discussed the budget. The protesters , some standing with raised fists, shouted down the mayor and city council, demanding cuts to the police budget following a confrontation between officers and protesters Tuesday night. Police fired pepper balls and wooden and rubber pellets to disperse the crowd, claiming that they were attacked with glass bottles.
Jolene Garcia, who says she retired from the Air Force after 20 years, rose from her seat and shouted as councilwoman Melissa Havrda was trying to make a point about the budget.
“We never, in a million years, expected to fight terrorism in our own damn city. Yet here we are,” she shouted.
Garcia said she has two biracial sons and expressed concerns about racial profiling by police.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg thanked her for her service and tried to calm things down. He said there have been “some difficult decisions made in the heat of the moment that we would all like to have back. Even the folks up there, they’re doing their very damn best, and if we’re going to make change in this country or in this city, it starts at meetings like this, so I’m asking for your patience.”
The crowd kept shouting until Nirenberg agreed to meet with one of the leaders of the group following the council meeting.
Alex Birnel with Move Texas urged the council to slash the police budget.
“They have guns, handcuffs, tasers, when people need housing, mental health services and things to actually assist them,” said Birnel.
He said police escalate matters when they bring guns, tasers and zip ties to a non-violent protest.
“We need to divest in police and invest in community,” said Birnel.