Standing on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse, several San Antonio organizations called on President Barack Obama to pardon a Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a gun at her abusive husband, who wasn't injured.
P.E.A.C.E. Initiative Executive Director Patricia S. Castillo said simultaneous press conferences and peaceful community demonstrations were planned across the United States Tuesday as part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement to show support for Marissa Alexander, who was arrested after firing a warning shot at her husband. She had a restraining order against the man, Castillo said, adding that while Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law protected George Zimmerman, who killed a 17-year-old unarmed black man, the defense didn't work for Alexander.
Pastor Shannon Grant, of the East Side Greater Ball Tabernacle A.M.E. Church, said she was at the demonstration to raise awareness of Alexander's case.
"For no one to be killed, a 20-year sentence is excessive," Grant said from the steps of the courthouse. "I would like to raise visibility about what's going on with policing. The public consciousness has picked up on the outcry."
Grant also called on legislators to address mandatory minimums that result in higher numbers of minorities being incarcerated.
As for Alexander's plight, Grant urged people to write their representatives and the president, asking for a full pardon for Alexander.
Castillo, whose organization works to end domestic violence in Bexar County, said she has women referred to her agency that are convicted of domestic violence.
"Fifty-six percent of women with that tag, batterer; you talk to them for five minutes, and you find they were victims who were defending themselves," Castillo said.
However, the San Antonio Police Department has improved over the years, according to Castillo, who cited the SAPD's special units dedicated to enforcing domestic violence laws, special training offered by the department and the SAPD's willingness to host training sessions.
"We still need better enforcement," Castillo said.
P.E.A.C.E. Initiative, Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, Fuerza Unida, International Women’s Day March Committee, Martinez Street Women’s Center, National Organization for Women-San Antonio, SATX4, San Antonio People’s Movement Assembly, Southwest Worker’s Union, Greater Ball Tabernacle A.M.E. Church all participated in the rally.