SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A small plane pulling a banner that read “Say Chinese Virus. com” flew over San Antonio Monday. KENS-TV got video of the banner in the west side.
Meanwhile, a small group gathered at the Alamo to protest a resolution unanimously approved by the San Antonio City Council last week condemning racism and hate speech and the use of words like Chinese virus to describe COVID-19.
“It is a resolution. It doesn’t create new law,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg at Monday evening’s COVID-19 briefing. “It doesn’t abridge anyone’s rights.”
He said city council is focused on recovery from the pandemic.
“It took a few moments of city council to pass unanimously a resolution condemning racism that we’ve seen throughout this pandemic,” Nirenberg said.
The resolution states that COVID-19 is a public health issue, not a racial, religious or ethnic one, and that the use of terms such as “Chinese virus” or “Kung Fu virus” encourages hate crimes against Asians. The resolution states that all persons are encouraged to report discriminatory or racist incidents to the proper authorities for investigation.
Nirenberg says they’re not infringing on anyone’s free speech rights.
“People are free to continue to exercise their first amendment rights and if they use it to speak in racist tones, the penalization is the shame of that,” said Nirenberg.
Here’s the resolution:
AFFIRMING THE CITY’S COMMITMENT TO THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF ALL COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND COMBATING HATE SPEECH.
WHEREAS, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, more than 3,222,107 cases and more than 228,756 deaths have been confirmed worldwide as of April 30, 2020, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,005,147 cases and 57,505 deaths have been reported in the United States as of April 30, 2020; and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 will not be stopped by political boundaries and was not created or caused by any race, nationality or ethnicity, and the World Health Organization has cautioned against using geographic descriptors that can fuel ethnic and racial discrimination; and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 has infected people from all racial, national and ethnic backgrounds; and WHEREAS, the City of San Antonio is fully committed to the safety, security, and equal
treatment of its residents as it confronts the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, each individual has the ability to promote inclusiveness, celebrate diversity, support all fellow community members, prevent the spread of misinformation, and reject hate and bias in all forms; and
WHEREAS, hate crimes, discrimination and aggression against Asians and Jews are on the rise throughout the country as these groups are being blamed for the COVID-19 outbreak and spread; and
WHEREAS, as our history has shown, times of great fear, uncertainty and unrest can lead to the demonization, blaming, and scapegoating of groups as the “other;” and
WHEREAS, extremists are taking advantage of COVID-19 to spread their hateful ideologies, including antisemitism, racism, Islamophobia, and Sinophobia; and
WHEREAS, amid the growing spread of COVID-19, there are surging reports of bias-motivated incidents targeting members of the Asian and Pacific Islander community in the U.S.; and
WHEREAS, COVID-19 is a public health issue, not a racial, religious or ethnic one, and the deliberate use of terms such as “Chinese virus” or “Kung Fu virus” to describe COVID-19 only encourages hate crimes and incidents against Asians and further spreads misinformation at a time when communities should be working together to get through this crisis; and
WHEREAS, the Jewish community has been targeted with blame, hate, antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories about their creating, spreading and profiting from COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, to target and stigmatize specific communities for the COVID-19 outbreak and world- wide spread creates an inexcusable risk to all community members; and
WHEREAS, it is critical that the City of San Antonio take leadership and stand in solidarity with its Asian and Jewish communities to send a message that discriminatory and hate-motivated behavior or violence will not be tolerated; and
WHEREAS, all persons are encouraged to report any such antisemitic, discriminatory or racist incidents to the proper authorities for investigation; and
WHEREAS, the City of San Antonio wishes to affirm its commitment to the well-being and safety of its Asian and Jewish community members and ensure they know they are not alone and that the City of San Antonio is committed to ending the spread of all forms of hate and bigotry;
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO:
SECTION 1. The City of San Antonio denounces antisemitism, anti-Asian bigotry, and all hateful speech, violent action and the spread of misinformation related to COVID-19 that casts blame, promotes racism or discrimination or harms the City of San Antonio Asian and Pacific Islander, Jewish, immigrant or other communities.
SECTION 2. The City of San Antonio joins cities, counties and states across the country in affirming its commitment to the safety and well-being of all community members, including the Asian and Jewish communities, and in combatting hate crimes targeting Asians, Jews and Pacific Islanders.
SECTION 3. The City of San Antonio will continue its efforts to protect residents and targets and victims of hate, and to prosecute and curb hate acts related to COVID-19 in partnership with nonprofit organizations, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, the San Antonio Police Department and other law enforcement partners.
SECTION 4. The City of San Antonio pledges to support the inalienable rights of all people in our community, who should be treated with respect and must remain safe during this pandemic. We call upon all our residents to treat each other with respect.
SECTION 5. The City of San Antonio urges residents to join us in calling attention to these harms and denouncing hate to help keep us all safe during this unprecedented pandemic and beyond.
SECTION 6. The City Clerk is directed to forward a copy of this action to the County Judge, of Bexar County on behalf of the City.
SECTION 7. This Resolution is effective immediately upon the receipt of eight affirmative votes, otherwise, it is effective ten days after passage.
PASSED AND APPROVED this 7th day of April, 2019.
Tina Flores, Acting City Clerk
MAYOR Ron Nirenberg
APPROVED AS TO FORM:
Andrew Segovia, City Attorney