SAN ANTONIO — A push for justice reform in San Antonio has reached the number of signatures to be put on the May ballot.
San Antonio voters will decide whether or not to decriminalize abortion, low-level marijuana possession, banning the use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds. Activist group ACT 4 SA and a city of San Antonio spokesperson confirmed the information Wednesday night, and an activist leader said the new charter would cut down on "dangerous police practices."
"A lot of these things are already done by SAPD," Ananda Tomas, ACT 4 SA Executive Director Ananda Tomas said about the proposed changes. "It's about codifying them so they stay in place no matter who the police chief is, no matter who your DA is."
But even if voters say yes, city officials say state law stands in the way of enforcing the potential changes.
The problem, according to City Attorney Andy Segovia, is that the proposed changes – which also include prioritizing citations instead of arrests for nonviolent crimes – go beyond city policy. He said they're issues governed by Texas law, which supersedes local power.
"Therefore, even if the public does adopt the charter amendments, the charter amendments as written will not be enforceable," Segovia said.
A city spokesperson says now that the city clerk has verified the signatures, city council will call the election during their meeting on Thursday.
Activists say the charter would cut out unnecessary arrests across the city, but the San Antonio Police Officers' Association has previously told KENS 5 amending the charter will "hinder the effective policing in place today."
Segovia, however, did say that one change San Antonio is sure to make if this charter amendment passes involves the appointment of a justice direction to weigh in on the city's justice policy.
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