San Antonio Community Leaders Speak Out Against GOP Convention Bid
Written by Staff Writer on May 9, 2018
San Antonio, Texas — Community leaders gathered at Bexar County Courthouse to voice their opposition to hosting the Republican National Convention in the Alamo City. While multiple cities normally submit competitive bids to host this multi-million dollar convention, so far only one city has bid for the 2020 Convention where Trump is set to be nominated for a second presidential run.
Joined by Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert, Jr., Drew Galloway of Move San Antonio, Trish Hasting of Indivisible, Global Chamber San Antonio Executive Director Christopher Herring, Tomas Larralde with Texas State Senator Jose Menendez, Pastor Jimmy Robles, former councilwoman and neighborhood activist Maria Berriozábal, and other local business leaders, the group conveyed a clear message that maintaining unity in San Antonio’s abundantly diverse community is more valuable than any political cash grab.
There were seven speakers beginning with Pastor Tom Heger, who opened the press conference with an opening prayer and a fiery call to action:
“There’s enough community building, bridge-building work to do without inviting a world class, arrogant barrier builder – we don’t need any more walls to further divide, demean, damage and destroy”, said the retired Presbyterian. “Honor the pledge to the flag’s last phrase – ‘We are a people of liberty and justice for All.'”
He led on with the core message of the day: maintaining San Antonio’s fragile community unity is worth more than any amount of money that can be made by inviting in a political powder keg:
“Community is more important than commodity, values are never measured in dollars, saying no to a torrent of hate also means saying yes to being a life-giving stream of inclusive love.” He continued, “Standing together at a rally also means standing together with the excluded and the marginalized.”
Graciela Sanchez, Director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center referenced the values instilled in her by two generations of San Antonio civil rights activists and community organizers in contrast to what she claims are the values of the Republican Party:
“At this point the state and national Republican Party is committed to this strategy of hate and greed. We don’t need or want this hate to come to San Antonio and our leaders must not use the precious dollars generated by the working people of San Antonio to bring Republican hate violence and greed to the city.”
County Commissioner Tommy Calvert gave a speech that stressed that this is not a simple partisan issue, but one that puts morals over money, an idea that can be agreed upon on both sides of the isle.
“We are not actually against a Republican convention (well some of us maybe, I’m not per se), we’ll host the Texas Republican Convention in June at, of all places, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, of all ironies. But we are standing up because we will not be disrespected by a president who steps into our home and who calls the lineage of the majority of the population rapists and murderers.”
Maria Berriozábal, former District 1 City Councilwoman and the first Latina to serve on the council, followed up by thanking Commissioner Calvert for the having the courage to speak out about how he feels noting that many others feel the same way. She then went on to tell the story of the violence at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and connected that event to what kind of city we are looking to be today, stressing the theme of the day: values over dollars, community over cash.
“What we are doing right now at this precise time in the history of our city is we are deciding what kind of a city we are going to be in the future. What are going to be our values is what we were taught as children: Respect.”
“How is San Antonio going to make this decision? What values are we going to decide upon? Is it going to be money? Or is it going to be the values of the community? We cannot sell our values.”
Christopher Herring, a business leader who represents more than 250,000 businesses as Chairman of the Texas Association of African American Chamber of Commerce and Global Chamber San Antonio Executive Director, also stressed the issue of community over compensation:
“What is the price this city and this county is willing to pay to bring a Republican National Convention with Donald Trump as the leader? Are we willing to sell the city for silver coins?… We are a community of black and brown and yellow and white, and we stand together united, not divided. We can’t have the rhetoric of divide to come into our city or our county.”
Trish Hastings Florence Co. Lead Organizer Indivisible, San Antonio, Texas, came out swinging by bringing up the irony that Republican lawmakers for the state such as Ted Cruz and Lamar Smith have previously refused to hold events in the city.
“They have no interest in spending time with their constituents here yet they want to bring the whole party here.”
She went on to bring up several examples of divisive Republican rhetoric, citing policies enacted restricting transgenders serving in the military and muslims with the travel ban.
Finally, a closing prayer and benediction was given by renowned Southside Pastor Jimmy Robles who makes it abundantly clear to those on either side of the isle that the goal is only to keep a diverse community together.
“Father God I lift up this city, this state, this nation, this country into your hands and I pray for the safety of our city. I pray for our economic future of our city. I lift up our leaders and our citizens into your hands Father God, that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. Let us obey the Government, for you are the one that placed them there. Let us obey the laws of the land, and obey you Father God, knowing that the battle is not ours. The battle belongs to you.”