City officials are looking into ways to remove financial requirements and simplify the process of coordinating public demonstrations between event organizers, The City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Police Department.
An organized protest, parade or march on San Antonio streets currently requires an application, a $75 fee and approval from SAPD.
The price of putting up barricades, redirecting traffic and staffing these public events with police officers can add up. The City of San Antonio covers costs up to $3,000, but anything more becomes the responsibility of the organizing party.
Free-speech advocates argue that the potential financial burdens on protesters and grassroots organizations restrict First Amendment rights.
A court case surrounding the City's parade ordinance even reached the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but was dismissed in 2010.
San Antonio City Council will soon decide whether to approve potential changes to the parade ordinance, including making the application available online, eliminating the application fee, removing the $3,000 cap and designating free-speech areas at the Alamodome, Convention Center and the San Antonio International Airport.
San Antonio has a complex history with First Amendment rights and the debate continues as various federal policy issues trickle down to the local level.
How open or restricted is free speech in San Antonio? How could proposed changes change the future of public activism in the city?
- Roberto Treviño, San Antonio City Council representative for District 1
- Joleen Garcia, organizer for the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition
- Elizabeth Provencio, first assistant city attorney for the City of San Antonio
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