SAN ANTONIO — John "Danny" Diaz, the incoming president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, responded to the 'Defund the Police' movement during a news conference Monday, warning San Antonio residents about a "group of people trying to divide our city."
Diaz told reporters SAPOA and San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, who also was in attendance, are "united in a common goal of protecting and serving the people of San Antonio."
"Unfortunately, there's a group of people trying to divide our city," Diaz said. "And they are doing so by misrepresenting the chief's statements and lying about the true intentions of the radical anti-police agenda. The group 'Fix SAPD' is going door-to-door – lying to voters and saying they are from the police department – and that they have the support of Chief McManus."
Diaz said SAPOA had received reports of door-knockers being "physically aggressive" while attempting to collect signatures and claimed Fix SAPD were "out-of-state operatives" funded by special interest groups.
McManus said he has received some calls as well about people knocking on doors.
"I got a call from a woman I know this morning," McManus said. "Saying that people were knocking at her door – asking her to sign a petition. The conversation was brief. It was, 'I don't know if I should sign it or not. I don't know what they want.'... That sort of thing."
Fix SAPD started on the idea of solving accountability, co-founder Oji Martin told KENS 5. "San Antonio wants change. We have a poll that shows more than 65% believe the [San Antonio Police Officers] Association is a block to reform."
As for the police chief's stance on reforming accountability, Martin stressed to "go back and look at the interviews with the Chief in early summer and he speaks candidly about the issues before us."
In June, McManus joined city leaders in virtual meetings and media roundtables to try and address the issue of police accountability. In those discussions, two state laws would frequently come up: Local Government Code Chapters 143 And 174.
“Chapter 174, which gives cities in Texas the right to collectively bargain, and Chapter 143, that gives officers the right to arbitrate,” McManus said during a Facebook Live in June. “Those need to go. We need our elected officials, both locally and our state reps, to press that issue in Austin.”
Fix SAPD Deputy Director Ananda Tomas told KENS 5 their organization is local. "The idea that dark money by outsiders is at work is ludicrous, Tomas said. "It's a matter of education. When you tell people what officers have done, they want to sign 90% of the time. It's an uphill climb to educate the public."
Tomas said Fix SAPD had been working since September to gather signatures in order to get a measure to repeal Chapters 143 and 174 on the ballot this year.
"They are the pillars protecting bad officers and creating accountability issues in our city," Martin said. "70% of fired officers get their jobs back. This is not a good foundation."
To watch Monday's news conference, click here.
To learn more about Fix SAPD, click here.