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San Antonio councilman clarifies stance on Black Lives Matter, police funding and Columbus statue

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) -San Antonio City Councilman John Courage wants to make it clear –he does not support eliminating San Antonio Police Department positions or any action that would jeopardize the security of the community.

In a Facebook Post, Courage stated that  he wanted “to set the record straight.”

In light of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, Courage said the council should review procedures in the field manual, recruiting, testing and training procedures, but he emphasized that he does not support defunding the San Antonio Police Department.

“Additionally, we need to carefully look at our bargaining agreement with the SAPOA and insist on changes that ensure we are in the strongest position to enforce discipline and cull bad actors from our police force,” Courage said.  “I will work to establish the reforms and improvements to keep us safe, maintain the level of police protection, and make the San Antonio Police Department better guardians of the people.”

Courage also addressed raising a fist with Black Lives Matter activists at a recent city council meeting.  One of the speakers called for a moment of silence for three Black Men killed by San Antonio police, and she asked members of city council to join her in raising a fist or kneeling. Courage and 9 other council members raised a fist or took a knee. In his Facebook post, Courage said he believes Black lives matter.  

I will continue to believe Black lives matter, just as I believe all lives matter,” Courage said.  “That doesn’t mean that my allegiance is not to the citizens of San Antonio, or to my oath to the Constitution which I have made, both as a soldier and as a Councilman. I want to make it perfectly clear that I serve for the best interests of you and the city, and not any manifesto nor angry crowd.”

Courage also has been questioned about his his stance on the Columbus statue.

The councilman, who serves on the city council’s Governance Committee, recently voted to forward a proposal to the full city council to remove the Columbus statue from a downtown park and return it to the Christopher Columbus Italian Society of San Antonio.   For many years, Indigenous activists in San Antonio have called for the removal of the statue at Columbus  park  on West Martin Street near IH 35, calling him the father of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.  They say Columbus also tortured and slaughtered thousands of indigenous people.  The statue was removed last week for cleaning after vandals splashed red paint on it.

“We are not attempting to ‘rewrite’ history, but the public should remain aware that over time and examination our understanding of history expands not retracts.  “It  is our role to govern our city parks and speak as representatives for the people of this city,” said Courage. 

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