Courtesy Photo / Fix SAPD
Opponents of Fix SAPD's petition drive hold up signs at a polling site where volunteers collected signatures last fall.
The head of the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) is dismissing a recent call for the FBI to look into alleged harassment of volunteers working for a ballot initiative that would strip the union of its ability to engage in collective bargaining.
In a statement provided to the Current
, SAPOA President Danny Diaz called allegations that the union intimidated police accountability activists "baseless." He added that supporters of Fix SAPD — the group backing the ballot measure — "have been both verbally and physically aggressive against voters who rejected signing [their] petition."
Last fall, Fix SAPD collected
enough signatures to let San Antonio voters decide the fate of Proposition B, which would end the union's
ability to engage in collective bargaining for a contract with the city. The measure will appear on the May 1 ballot.
Earlier this month, longtime East Side activist and former city councilman Mario Salas asked the FBI to look into allegations Fix SAPD volunteers faced harassment from union supporters while they approached voters.
However, Diaz said Fix SAPD, not the union, engaged in intimidation. He cited police reports filed by San Antonio residents who allege that members of the police accountability group either verbally harassed them or misrepresented themselves as being affiliated with the San Antonio Police Department.
Diaz detailed one interaction in mid-December in which a Fix SAPD canvasser got into an altercation with a woman and her husband after the woman refused to sign the petition.
Fix SAPD Deputy Director Ananda Tomas told the Current
that the petitioner in question "did not represent Fix SAPD and the way that we work or speak to our community." That person was subsequently fired.
Tomas said the incident marked the only time Fix SAPD received complaints about the actions of its petitioners.
In his statement, Diaz maintained that SAPOA's volunteers and "recruits" were
"all were given instruction to be respectful and to not engage with petitioners."
But Tomas said that both petitioners and voters felt intimidated by SAPOA volunteers and recruits.
"They're following the playbook right now," she said of SAPOA. "Scorched earth tactics, don't worry about whether it's moral or not, legal or not, just get folks scared so you can keep your power and not have to worry about the issues at hand."
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