By Adriana Ruiz
A group of about 50 protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “SAPD, stop police brutality” as part of a nationwide effort to spotlight the issues of police violence and misconduct Wednesday in front of the Bexar County Courthouse.
The march started on Dolorosa St. and continued through downtown to Commerce St.
Around the country, 77 marches in 64 locations protested police brutality and misconduct today, said march organizer Marisa Laufer.
Laufer said the march was a coalition of organizations, such as San Anto Cop Watch, Oct. 22 Coalition to Protest Police Brutality, Brown Berets San Antonio Chapter, All of Us or None, League of United Latin American Citizens Council 4994, Incarceration San Antonio Chapter and Southwest Workers Union.
“We are taking part in a national movement,” Laufer said. “Ferguson right now is ground zero, but we have the same problems here. We need to have active members in the community being vigilant about what is going on and learning how to police the police.”
Community organizer Steve Huerta said he wants people to be aware of the families and the stories of those wh
ose lives have been changed because of police violence.
“The story is about those who were lost, who the victim left behind. … That is the real impact police brutality has,” Huerta said.
He said the purpose of the march is to bring awareness to the issues in a positive way.
“While we may be the victims of uncivilized violence, we will not be a community swayed to violence,” Huerta said. “We will stand together in unity; we will protest in unity, but we will do it in a way that educates the community and empowers it to come to terms with the police department that is really getting out of control.
“We want to show that San Antonio can meet challenging issues like this, but we can do this in a non-violent manner.”
Huerta said it makes no sense to protest against violence in a violent manner. He referred to the recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri, where residents flooded the streets and violently protested after a teen was fatally shot by a police officer.
“Community leaders failed to come in and lead the community in a more positive manner,” Huerta said. “They allowed the wildfire to get out of control. I want to lead my community to peaceful resolutions. We will not burn down our own city because then we become the animal that we are trying to defeat.”
Huerta said his experience with the police department has taught him that police misconduct is not widespread. He said he had a run-in with an officer who was abusive until another police officer stepped in and told him it was wrong.
“It’s a bad apple that is making everybody else look bad,” Huerta said.
The family of Marquise Jones, a man fatally shot by an off-duty San Antonio police officer in February, was present at the march.
Jones’ aunt Debbie Bush and his mother, Cheryl Jones, along with other members of the family, were emotional during the protest.
Bush said the family joined the protest in an effort to bring justice to her nephew.
“You don’t know how bad things are until it hits home,” Bush said. “To know that many young men have lost their lives because police that feel like, in this day and time, they are the judge, jury and executioners — something has to be done, not only for my nephew but for anyone who has lost a loved one.”
During the march, Bush hesitated to continue when some protestors began to chant, “We smell bacon.” She said she didn’t appreciate those chants and did not want to be associated with those protestors.
“We don’t want that kind of protesting,” Bush said. “This is a peaceful march. We don’t want a bad element associated with my nephew.”
Jonathan Guajardo, University of the Incarnate Word graduate student, said he joined the march in honor of his friend Robert Cameron Redus, a UIW student who was fatally shot by a police officer in December.
Redus was shot five times by campus police Officer Christopher Carter after a traffic stop that escalated into an altercation at an apartment complex in Alamo Heights near the campus.
Guajardo said he is part of a UIW student movement fighting back against the administrations’ stance on the shooting of Redus. He said the student group has presented recommendations for police reform on campus.
Guajardo said the administration has been trying to “stonewall” and “brush aside” the issue by failing to address it.