Only one speaker at Monday’s special meeting urged council members to issue serious sanctions against Perry.
SAN ANTONIO — Shortly before San Antonio City Council on Monday afternoon reprimanded a colleague for his alleged involvement in a hit-and-run crash earlier this month, 18 community members addressed the body with their thoughts on the controversy.
All but one of them showed support for Clayton Perry, the District 10 representative under fire – and soon to be on temporary leave – following the Nov. 6 incident, for which Perry has been charged.
One lone man urged the council to not stand for what he called white privilege. The rest strongly supported Perry, telling Mayor Ron Nirenberg and other city leaders to stand on his long record of service and promise to do better.
‘You know better’
James Hamilton didn’t say what council district he lives in but he did say he came to speak for people of color.
“There’s a lot of Black and brown people here in San Antonio that don’t get to take a sabbatical because they get a DWI charge and run into some people. If I drive out of here today, drunk, and the police pull me over? They’re going to take me to jail and keep me in there with a high bond, probably something I couldn’t afford,” Hamilton asserted.
Hamilton said for Perry to ask for compassion is to rely on white privilege.
“When somebody that looks like me were to do the same thing, they’re going to lock them up,” he continued. “Due process to me is sitting in a jail cell, making bond and then losing my job because I got charged with a criminal offense.
“You don’t have our compassion and you’re not going to get white privilege on this.”
Speaking directly to Perry, Hamilton said: “Resign! Go get the help you need.”
Reminding Perry of his time of military service, Hamilton said, “You done all this time in the military. You know better.”
Hamilton said many people will remember the District 10 councilman was shown a courtesy that many people would be denied.
“We ain’t buying that. And all of y’all that’s going to vote for white privilege and giving him special privileges that the rest of the people in San Antonio don’t have? We’re gonna vote you out.”
‘A tragic end to a stellar career’
The gallery at council chambers was almost empty at the 1:30 p.m. special meeting, with only a couple dozen spectators. Every other person who signed up to speak told the council Perry deserves to keep his seat.
Michael Anderson told council any change in representation should be based on public input from voters.
“This is a tragic end to a stellar career as a councilman. Councilman Perry has served our district admirably and stood as sometimes the sole voice of fiscal restraint and reason on city council, Anderson said.
David Pierce said making a decision on Perry’s future based on one short video clip of the incident is wrong.
“The short video clip does not offer a true picture of all the facts,” he added. “Film, coupled with feeling, never truly reflects the totality of a person.”
Roy Blankenberg said he has known Perry for six years for his work with the Northern Hills Homeowner Association. He urged compassion.
“We’re not talking about his third or second offense here. We’re talking about his first offense. Did he make a bad decision? He has admitted that. But does he deserve to lose his seat on city council? No. He does not,” Blankenberg said, adding many adults have done things of which they are not proud.
Linda Estes echoed the sentiment, saying, “On this resolution, vote no and put yourself in a position it might happen to you one day.”
Carl Merkle urged the council to take their time in making a decision, saying, “I still have confidence in Councilman Perry. The reason is this appears to be a rush to judgement where all the facts are not yet known or properly vetted by an appropriate legal process.”
Donna Dozier, on behalf of Sierra North Citizen on Alert, said Perry’s office is highly responsive.
“Perry’s staff has the best customer service we could possibly receive,” Dozier said. “When we have a concern, the concern gets addressed. The team that works with Councilman Perry is a well-knit team that responds to residents.”
Speaking passionately, Peggy Sue Wilson-Schmueckle admonished the council by saying: “This was an accident. Not a pre-planned criminal conspiracy or coverup!”
She added she knows Perry has engaged in countless hours of volunteer service.
“Councilman Perry was not elected by the people for one good event or one good thing. He was elected because he is genuinely a caring, compassionate person with a lifetime of achievements,” Wilson-Schmueckle said. “This should not be trial by Twitter. This is not Judge Judy. We should leave the drama at the door.”