Magnifying the Fine Print: The Ins-and-Outs of Proposition A.

Jenna Lee 

It’s city election season again in San Antonio starting on April 24 running through early May. Due to recent legislation combined with the current political climate, this election is sure to stir up some controversy. In fact, it already has.

Proposition A is set to be one of the most anticipated items on the ballot. Back in February, many San Antonio based interest groups gathered over 30,000 signatures of citizens hoping for change regarding the city’s marijuana and abortion policies. The plethora of signatures brought Proposition A into existence, and gave it the name “The San Antonio Justice Charter.” According to the Justice Charter’s Website, Prop A promotes “Decriminalizing abortion and marijuana, promoting reproductive autonomy and justice, and banning no-knock warrants and chokeholds.” The aim of Prop A is to mitigate mass incarceration with cite-and-release laws for minor criminal offenses. Now, if you are a responsible voter, you might have a lot of questions.

You might be alarmed by the Justice Charter’s large scope encompassing many different issues. Roping in a number of hot-button topics and confining all of them to a simple yes or no can be frustrating for voters. To break things down, here’s what a YES vote means: a city Justice director will be appointed, police will not arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses, police cannot enforce criminal abortion laws, chokeholds and no-knock warrants will be banned, and citations instead of arrests will be issued for certain misdemeanors. A NO vote means: police can continue making arrests for certain misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses, enforce criminal abortion laws, not instate a Justice director, and change policing practices.

Here’s the issue, a voter could be anti-police chokeholds, but also be pro-life. Consider a pro-choice voter who is against cite-and-release. How about a voter who believes that San Antonio needs a Justice director, but believes that marijuana should be criminalized still. Due to the nuances of opinion, if you agree with one issue on the yes side, but not the rest, you are forced to either prioritize that one issue and vote for others you disagree with. The other choice is to vote no all together and miss out on sharing your voice on the important issue. Roping in many issues does not allow citizens to rightly express their opinions. Although an anti-abortion interest group tried to split up the issues in the Justice Charter, they were ultimately denied. 

Additionally, you might have wondered about the vagueness of the cite-and-release clause in Prop A. As stated before, a YES vote pushes “citations instead of arrests for certain misdemeanors.” What kinds of misdemeanors are we talking about here? The Justice Charter pushes for abolishing arrests for theft and vandalism, and they certainly aren’t broadcasting it. Prop A states that citations will be given for theft of property or service up to $750, criminal mischief damages up to $750, and vandalism up to $2,500. Again, this is in the name of reducing mass incarceration and promoting safety in the city. This is the major worry about Prop A. Although it proposes attractive reform for some voters, this sinister crime clause hides behind decriminalization of abortion and marijuana. Consider if citations over arrests will aid in San Antonio’s growing crime problem. Is a paper saying “don’t do it again” a big enough deterrent for criminals? Critics of Prop A believe that it isn’t, and that this will only harm small business owners who are victims of break ins, people waking up to smashed in car windows, or homeowners with property defaced by graffiti. Crime Grade states that a crime is committed every 6 minutes in San Antonio. Theft sits at the top of the most common criminal activity list, and it can happen to anyone. Is the Justice Charter really just if it lets San Antonio’s most widespread crime go virtually unpunished? As a voter, it is crucial to consider what a yes vote really means for our city. 

Now, to be very clear, this article is not meant to persuade voters in any direction on voting day. This is a call to always read the fine print on what you are really saying yes or no to. Do your own research when it comes to picking and choosing issues that are important to you…especially when they are unfairly bundled in with many others like in Prop A. Pay attention to elements of reform that go unstated; what are their implications? What do you value? What do you think our city needs? 

Assumption Seminary Attacked and Vandalized

Trespassers smashed doors and the image of Jesus Christ on the cross in an attack on Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, TX

Between 10 and 11pm on Thursday, Sep. 24, 2020, Assumption Seminary in San Antonio was attacked and vandalized. Although no one was injured in the attack, trespassers managed to crack the entrance doors to Lopez Hall, which is serving as the Discernment House for the San Antonio Archdiocese. This is a dormitory where men can live while discerning whether they are called to enter the seminary and the priesthood. Gilbert Valadez, one of the men living in the Discernment House, said that “I had just finished getting groceries and food and arrived at the seminary. Had I not made the stop to buy food, I am certain I would’ve run into the intruders.”

The doors to Lopez Hall, taken by Alexander Jacobs

In addition to merely smashing some doors and breaking some windows, the vandals smashed the feet of Jesus on the Crucifix outside of the main chapel in the seminary. They also put a black jersey over Jesus’ head. Alexander Jacobs, a Trinity University student (Class of 2020), who currently lives in Lopez Hall in Assumption Seminary said that “there has been a significant increase in the desecration of Catholic Churches and statues. Statues of Mary have had their heads chopped off, statues of Jesus have been destroyed, and the Lord Himself present in the Most Holy Eucharist has been desecrated. The next thing is for them to attack the clergy themselves.”

Feet of Jesus on the Crucifix at the main chapel, taken by Isaiah Ringen

In the last several months, several churches have been attacked and vandalized. Statues of Jesus Christ have been destroyed or beheaded, the Eucharist has been stolen or desecrated, and statues of the Virgin Mary have been beheaded and crushed as well. Jacobs also said that “The attack [last night] is the first of its kind that I’ve seen, where someone goes and directly attacks a seminary dorm at night when people are sleeping. While this is an outrage, it’s also very sad, because for the people who are doing this, they are unknowingly damning themselves to hell for all eternity. I pray for their conversion so they don’t have to face God in this miserable state.” 

Cover image taken by Isaiah Ringen