Department of Communications and Public Affairs

Published on Thursday, March 01, 2018

City Council approves historic First Amendment assembly and procession policy

CONTACT: Bruce Davidson, 210-207-8998   

Justin Renteria, 210-296-7213

SAN ANTONIO (March 1, 2018) — Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Councilman Roberto Treviño lauded City Council’s unanimous approval of an ordinance establishing new First Amendment assembly and procession procedures, crafted with extensive community input.

“City Hall belongs to the public, and everyone has a seat at the table,” Mayor Nirenberg said. “This ordinance will make it easier and more affordable for San Antonians to make their voices heard and is a perfect example of how the community and the city can come together.”

Mayor Nirenberg praised District 1 Councilman Treviño’s dedicated efforts on the issue and noted that his Council Consideration Request, which called for a review of the City’s Parade Ordinance, paved the way for real community input and dialogue.

Councilman Treviño said, “The passage of the changes to our First Amendment speech and assembly policy signifies the end of placing a price tag on free speech in San Antonio. I am grateful to Joleen Garcia and the members of the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition for their participation in several work sessions with my office and City staff. Thank you to my past and present council colleagues who provided their support on this instrumental policy.”

The new ordinance evolved after confusion arose around protests at the San Antonio International Airport last February in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The San Antonio Free Speech Coalition organized a community feedback and work session that included community members, Councilmember Treviño, the City Manager’s Office, the City Attorney and SAPD.

“The stakeholder input from all sides has been vital in crafting amendments which remove permitting costs for free speech activities like protests while providing more opportunities for engagement between citizens and their local government. The current political and social climate has elicited strong responses across America. I am proud that the policy this council put forth today gives all parts of our community the opportunity to exercise their First Amendment right,” Councilman Treviño said.

This collaboration culminated in the following proposed changes to the City’s Parade ordinance:

  1. permit and traffic safety costs for First Amendment processions are removed;
  2. created a permitting official and a procession and public assembly permit office within the Center City Development and Operations Department;
  3. explicit protection for spontaneous assemblies is provided;
  4. applicants can now submit their applications for a procession 15 days before an event, as opposed to 30 days;
  5. identifies free speech zones in the airport.  
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