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TAKE ACTION: SATX Mayor/Council Must Reject Border Security Expo

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Banner drop at Grand Hyatt SA last week in San Antonio, Texas. Image: Greg Harman

A local campaign to boot a national border militarization expo from San Antonio picks up steam. Your name here will help.

Greg Harman

“They got tasers, they got guns. They are not the only ones with power. We’ve got people power.”

Chant outside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

As local residents gathered below began to chant, a massive banner unfurled from atop of the Grand Hyatt SA parking garage in downtown San Antonio. Cheers went up. Towering red letters read: “Migra Out of SA.”

For the second time, San Antonians made their hard-to-ignore call for Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the San Antonio City Council to reject the Border Security Expo. The event has grown into a four-day event catering to “international and domestic government leaders and law enforcement officials charged with securing their borders” and just wrapped up its second appearance in the city. The event migrated from Phoenix several years ago where it sparked regular resistance among residents there.

READ AND SIGN: Contra Border Security Expo Petition

In SA, the first protest occurred two years ago in the weeks before COVID-19 made its disruptive appearance in San Antonio back in 2020. This campaign is looking forward to Citizens to be Heard before Council on Wednesday, where organizers plan to deliver their petition to the local elected leadership. Below are some pics from Contra Border Security Expo Protest last week.

Supporters are invited to to sign on and attend City Council Public Comment Session at 5pm Wednesday, April 6 and stand in solidarity as the group reads its demand before the Mayor and Council.

“We are trying to get as many people as possible to simply stand up while the letter is read,” wrote one coalition member. “If interested, you can also sign up (by 5 PM) to speak during public comment yourself about why you disapprove of the Border Expo taking place in a public facility.”

The suddenly dystopian landscape that canine-inspired robotics surveillance is ushering in today brings renewed urgency to their demand. This robotic “dog” on display at this year’s expo caught a fair bit of attention.

That ins spite of leaving off the sniper’s rifle for polite company.

By comparison, here’s how Ghost Robotics displayed their Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicles, or Q-UGVs, at the US Army’s annual convention:

Describing the borderlands as an “inhospitable place for man and beast,” a rep of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Innovation Team not only leaned into the hazards of remote border terrains and smugglers but even raised the specter of potential weapons of mass destruction to justify calling up the Q-UGVs. Meanwhile the National Interest points to these “robotic dogs” as becoming a “staple on US military bases” and in development in Israel.

Recommended Reading: “Robo Dogs and Refugees: The Future of the Global Border Industrial Complex.”

Climate Collectiva describes the purpose of the petition this way:

Since 2016, the City of San Antonio has allowed the Border Security Expo to take place in the public Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, skipping only 2021 when the Expo was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, community members stood in protest against the event, and do so again this year in 2022. The Expo glorifies border militarization and the surveillance of border communities, destruction of indigenous land, family separation, death it creates. During the Expo, the immigration officials who implement the United States’ cruel immigration policies and the companies that profit off of them further their business relationships and celebrate their hateful anti-immigrant work.

As a self-defined “Compassionate City,” San Antonio must redefine “security” to mean access to food, housing, health care, education, and work, not border militarization that only benefits politicians and private companies. We demand a compassionate San Antonio that envisions, fosters, and creates a welcome home for immigrants, not one that enables those who terrorize them. Please sign the petition to tell Mayor Ron Nirenburg and the rest of the San Antonio City Council not to allow the Border Security Expo in our Convention Center in 2023 or ever again.

Here is the petition language itself:

Here are some short interviews from the 2020 San Antonio protest:

Here’s more from the organizers at last week’s action outside the convention center: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Among the key organizations engaged on the issue are Party for Socialism and Liberation, Southwest Workers Union, Veterans for Peace, Another Gulf is Possible, Autonomous Brown Berets de San Anto, SA Stands, and the Poor People’s Campaign.


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You can hear the words of the organizers and participants: