A protest Thursday for justice for the Black community was singularly focused on voting as a new San Antonio group, the Reliable Revolutionaries, held a candidates forum and voter registration drive at the East Side’s George Gervin Technology Center.
“One of the things we found while speaking to the Black community is they felt their voice is not heard. So they were convinced their vote doesn’t matter,” said Jourdyn Parks, a founder of the new group. “We’re trying to help them see that it does.”
Like the Young Ambitious Activists and the Radical Registrars, the nonprofit Reliable Revolutionaries formed in the wake of protests over George Floyd’s death.
It has teamed up with the Radical Registrars to encourage voter participation in the Black community and to elect candidates who will make their issues a priority. Those include amending the police union contract, reallocating money from the police to other departments, and banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
Parks said African Americans urgently need to vote because they can’t expect candidates “to act on our issues when they already made the issues of the people who actually voted for them a priority.”
She said all candidates for Tuesday’s primary runoff were invited to speak at the forum. No Republican candidates showed up, with only two responding to the group’s request for attendance, saying they couldn’t make it.
As candidates spoke, a few of the attendees pushed for them to use the word “defund” in their plans for police reform.
After state Sen. Royce West, who is running for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, spoke through a videoconference on a laptop to the attendees, Camille Wright, 27, of Black Futures Collective, asked him why he was “tap dancing” around using the word “defund” in his plans for police reform.
“The police are asked to do too much. We don’t need for them to be social workers, mental health officers, truant officers. We need to define at the local level what their core mission is,” West said.
“I don’t tap-dance, and I take exception to that characterization,” he added.
“Well, I challenge you to reword the use of ‘reform’ and consistently use ‘defund,’ because that’s one thing that us young voters are looking for. Because reform to us is an old word,” Wright responded, acknowledging that she and West were largely fighting for the same changes.
Bexar County Democratic Party Chair Monica Alcantara, an incumbent running against Grace Rose Gonzales, expressed her support for the Black community, followed by state Rep. Roland Gutierrez, who is running for the state Senate District 19 seat.
Along with banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, Gutierrez is focused on the racial disparities in drug arrests and on legalizing marijuana in Texas.
“When you’re talking about Black Lives Matter, and you’re talking about the problem of young Black men getting rousted on the corner, guess what they’re getting rousted for? A little bit of pot,” he said to nods from the crowd. “I’m really a believer in cannabis — and again, it’s not because I smoke it.”
State. Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins and Jennifer Ramos, a former city councilwoman who is running for Gutierrez’s seat in Texas House District 119, also expressed support for the group and called for police reform.
After the candidates spoke, the group headed out on foot and in their cars to the polls to cast their ballots.
Silvia Foster-Frau covers immigration news in the San Antonio, Bexar County and South Texas area. To read more from Silvia, become a subscriber. email@example.com | Twitter: @SilviaElenaFF
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