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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

San Antonio Mayor Tweets That He's Not OK With Cops Firing Projectiles at Protesters, Media

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2020 at 2:23 PM

  • Twitter / @SanAntonioProbz
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said on Twitter late Tuesday that he's looking into wooden projectiles police fired at protesters and members of the media.

Around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the mayor issued an email statement to the Current saying he had met with the city manager and San Antonio Police Chief William McManus to to discuss SAPD's crowd dispersal polices.

"I have been hearing concerns about the use of tear gas as well as rubber and wood projectiles," Nirenberg said in the email. “I do not want to see anyone injured."

He continued: “I asked the chief to communicate the rules of engagement being used by the San Antonio Police Department so demonstrators will clearly understand what actions will lead officers to disperse a crowd. “Police are providing safe zones for the media when possible during demonstrations."

Video shot around 11 p.m. on the fourth night of local anti-police brutality protests and shared on social media shows officers at Alamo Plaza appear to open fire with projectiles as an organizer with his back to the police told a group of protesters to put their hands up and act peacefully.

After Express-News reporter Joshua Fechter, one of several media members on the scene, said his colleague Mark Dunphy had been hit with a wooden bullet fired by police, he tagged Nirenberg on Twitter and asked "are you okay with this?"

"No, I'm not," Nirenberg responded. "I am asking for more information on these projectiles."

Dunphy posted a photo of one of the wooden pegs police fired into the crowd and a round bruise on his leg.

In response to an inquiry from the Current, SAPD replied with a brief email saying it plans to issue a statement about last night’s events.

"Additionally, we are working to create a safe zone for the media to set-up and cover any protests in the downtown area," the email also said. "The statement and safe zone information will be forthcoming soon."

The Neiman Journalism Lab has documented 130 attacks on journalists by police since May 28, saying the assaults represent a "widespread pattern, not one-off incidents."

"While violence against press-credentialed reporters covering the protests may still be dwarfed by violence against the American citizens who are protesting, incidents are piling up — and are getting more attention in part because the journalists being attacked include those from large mainstream news organizations," Neiman wrote.

Nirenberg's Twitter response didn't exactly quell criticism from demonstrators, who urged him to defund SAPD and ensure officers wouldn't continue to use tear gas and projectiles.

Officers used tear gas to disperse downtown crowds on Saturday, the first night of local protests decrying the death of George Floyd, and also fired rubber bullets to break up crowds.

click to enlarge A rubber projectile fired by police during the disturbance following Saturday's downtown march. - JAMES DOBBINS
  • James Dobbins
  • A rubber projectile fired by police during the disturbance following Saturday's downtown march.

"They've been shooting then since Saturday night, RON," one person tweeted.

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