A day after Sacramento Police released footage of officers fatally shooting an unarmed black man in his grandparents’ backyard, protesters took to the streets.
Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old father of two, died Sunday after being shot by police, who say they thought he was pointing a gun at them. Officers fired about 20 shots at Clark and then waited more than five minutes before administering aid. The only object found near Clark’s body was a cellphone.
On Thursday, activists from Black Lives Matter and other groups chanted inside City Hall before making their way to Interstate 5, shutting down traffic both ways during rush hour.
“I have four grandbabies that are black. I don’t want them to be next,” protester Tami Collins told Capital Public Radio.
Protesters then moved to Golden 1 Center, where the Sacramento Kings play.
As protesters gathered outside the arena, they locked hands and barred fans from entering. The game was delayed but not canceled, and the Kings announced that no more fans would be admitted because law enforcement could not ensure that ticketed fans could safely enter the arena. The team said it would refund those who had tickets to the game.
From center court, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé addressed the small crowd of about 2,000 who had made it into the arena and expressed sympathy to Clark’s family.
“What happened was absolutely horrific, and we’re so very sorry, so very sorry for your loss,” he said. “I also wanted to say that we at the Kings recognize people’s abilities to protest peacefully and we respect that.”
“We recognize that it is not just business as usual, and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting with our own community,” Ranadivé went on. “We are going to work really hard to prevent this kind of a tragedy from happening again.”
“What Vivek said speaks volumes,” said the Kings’ Vince Carter, according to The Associated Press. “Regardless of your skin color, it’s just what’s right and what’s wrong and how we can support each other, even if it has nothing to do with you. Lend a hand and support. That’s the message that needs to shine through all of this.”
The two officers involved in the shooting have not been named; both have been placed on paid administrative leave.
“This is an epic day for black Sacramento,” Brrazey Liberty, a musician and Black Lives Matter activist told The Sacramento Bee. “We feel like we had a victory today. Today was ours.”