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For Ariel Alvarez, Thursday afternoon’s Southside Shut Down protest against police brutality was personal. About 35 people, including the 20-year-old Latina Texas A&M-San Antonio student, came out to march down South Flores Street in support of the local Black Lives Matter movement.
A South Sider herself, Alvarez yelled out to the members of her community, asking them why they weren’t protesting too.
“Where are you?” she cried out to cars driving by, honking. “This is the time to come together! If you’re angry about our children in cages, come join us! We need to stand together to abolish this racist system.”
Southside Shut Down brought the 20th day of local Black Lives Matter protests to the corner of West Malone Avenue and South Flores Street, where protesters marched from Moore’s Feed and Seed Store to the R & J Saloon parking lot. The group gathered in front of a mural of Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez to hold a vigil for African Americans who have been killed by police officers.
The Reliable Revolutionaries, an umbrella organization for groups that support the Black Lives Matter cause locally, decided to help organize a protest on the South Side of San Antonio because people had reached out asking for one be held there, said Roger Mortensen, a leader within the Reliable Revolutionaries.
“We are trying to make it to all areas of town,” Mortensen said. “We’d love to go to the white neighborhoods and disrupt their day and have them, you know, p—– off that we are [protesting] on their streets – because they don’t like that.”
With a predominantly Latino population living on the South Side, Alvarez said she came out to participate in the protests because she’s seen a lot of problems in the San Antonio Independent School District high schools – “in particular the policing, the use of excessive force in our public schools,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said she graduated from Burbank High School in 2018. Since then, she’s become a mentor with SA Youth to help battle systemic issues.
Selina Marroquin said she also is from the South Side and felt it was extremely important to come to Thursday’s march. With her little girl hanging onto her hand, Marroquin took the microphone and addressed the other attendees as they stood in the R & J Saloon parking lot.
“I’m brown,” she said. “My family members deserve to live.”
A little boy with long sandy hair in his face walked up to Marroquin’s daughter and handed her a rainbow bracelet he’d been making out of tiny rubber bands. Her small brown hand stretched out to meet his small white hand as she accepted the gift, smiling.
After setting up a table with photos of Breonna Taylor, Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, and several other black men and women killed across the country, the protesters attempted to light candles but were unable to because of strong winds.
The protesters bowed their heads and closed their eyes for three minutes of silence, during which several protesters wept silently or clasped their hands in prayer.
After the vigil, the protesters marched the half-mile back to the starting point holding up signs with the names “Marquise Jones” and “Charles Roundtree” – local black men killed by police – and chanting “Peace for Marquise,” “No justice, no peace,” and “This is what democracy looks like!”
The Reliable Revolutionaries are hosting a Juneteenth event kicking off at the AT&T Center at 3 p.m. Friday, before marching to the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on New Braunfels Avenue on the East Side.
“We will try to get something going on the West Side next week,” Mortensen said.