City Floats New Rules to Make it Easier to Stage Street Protests

The City of San Antonio has come up with new rules which should remove red tape from groups who want to stage protest demonstrations in the city, and one of the changes get to pay for the demonstrations, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The current fee to get a permit to stage a demonstration or protest march will be removed, and, according to the proposal, 'the City will offset all costs associated with traffic safety officers and barricades.'

After several anti-Trump groups tried to stage a protest at the Airport earlier this year to show their opposition to the President's ban on travel from six Muslim nations, the protesters were dispersed because they hadn't gotten the required forms and paid the fees.

"This is a really difficult issue and its an activist issue," Mayor NIrenberg said.  "That means most people who take a side on this issue do not want to compromise."

Among the other changes...permit forms will be available on line; currently people need to obtain a permit from the police department.  But the City says protesters will still have to coordinate with the SAPD.

Parade marshals can be named to insure 'marcher safety, wellness and that the procession proceeds in a timely manner.'

The City declined a request by some protest groups that the SAPD be removed from the process altogther.

And City Attorney Andy Segovia says one thing protesters will not be allowed to do is to block traffic, which has been done by Black Lives Matter demonstrators in other cities.

"The police will have to make sure that, from a safety standpoint, traffic flow can go and the marchers can march safely," Segovia said.

Downtown councilman Roberto Trevino, who has been pushing for changes in the so called 'Parade Ordinance,' praised the compromise.

"The right to assemble is at the core of our nation's identity," Trevino said.  "Many in our community are actively making their voices heard, and it is critical that the City be proactive about safeguarding the First Amendment rights of our citizens.  Policy changes just like this one help to remove barriers which preclude individuals or groups from demonstrating peacefully."

The new rules only cover protests that want to take place on City property, like streets, the grounds of City Hall, or the Airport.

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