As the May 6 elections draw closer, San Antonio’s citizens will have to decide their stance on a controversial city charter amendment.
Proposition A—known as the “Justice Charter”—would decriminalize abortion crimes, Class A and Class B marijuana possession, and theft of property worth less than $750.
Left-leaning activist group Act 4 SA, which promoted a petition to put the proposition on the May ballot, claimed it would “amend the City Charter of San Antonio to adopt a justice policy that will reduce unnecessary arrests, mitigate racial bias, and save scarce public resources through a comprehensive set of popular reforms.”
The charter proposes prohibiting police officers from arresting individuals for abortion crimes to “promote the reproductive health” of citizens. The proposition would prevent city police from investigating or enforcing Texas’ abortion laws unless someone coerces a woman into getting an abortion or in criminal negligence cases.
Proposition A would also bar police from arresting or issuing citations to individuals for Class A or Class B misdemeanor marijuana possession, allowing San Antonio citizens to carry up to four ounces of marijuana without consequence. The charter would also prevent officers from carrying out a search or seizure on individuals based on the odor of marijuana or hemp.
The “Justice Charter” would codify a ban on no-knock search warrants—which allow officers to enter a citizen’s residence without first knocking or announcing their presence—unless there is an “imminent threat to human life.”
Another section of Proposition A proposes issuing a citation, ticket, or verbal warning to individuals committing criminal mischief worth less than $750, theft of property or service worth less than $750, or graffiti damage worth less than $2,500.
Although Ground Game Texas, a self-described “progressive” organization campaigning for the charter, claims that the initiative will only implement a cite and release policy for “non-violent, low-level offenses,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg raised concerns that the charter would enable criminals.
“I am encouraging voters to do their research before they go vote and then join me in voting against Prop A,” said Nirenberg on KSAT-TV.
“There is a lot in there, but what troubles me is the lack of consequences for theft up to $750 and property damage up to $2,500. That’s not pocket change. Prop A unfortunately ignores the victims, from small business to nonprofits to really any working family who wakes up to a smashed window.”
San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia also spoke against Proposition A, stating that the city would not enforce most of the “Justice Charter” because the policies violate state law.
However, Mike Siegel, Ground Game Texas co-founder and political director, told the San Antonio Report that he believes the city can defy state law.
“Every day, police departments decide what they’re going to enforce and what they’re not going to enforce, and this represents the people of San Antonio saying: these are not our priorities for our scarce public dollars,” said Siegel. “The roots of the Texas Constitution are in local self control [and] self determination. So that’s why we have charter cities that have this authority to adopt their own charters and decide their own laws.”
San Antonio citizens will vote on Proposition A on May 6, with early voting starting April 24.