Updated at 10: 20 p.m. ET
A special meeting of the Sacramento City Council called to hear local community reaction to the police slaying of 22-year-old Stephon Clark was disrupted by shouting demonstrators almost as soon as the meeting convened.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg recessed the meeting for 15 minutes to restore order and then the forum continued.
Steinberg began the meeting by telling residents that the entire City Council joined them in their grieving and that “in the days and months ahead, you will be heard and we will be listening.”
Council member Larry Carr had just begun his remarks when some members of the audience began chanting “Stephon Clark! Stephon Clark!”
Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark rushed to the front of the room and chanted his brother’s name before launching into an expletive-laden speech denouncing gangs, poverty and high rents in Sacramento.
When Clark refused to keep quiet, Mayor Steinberg recessed the meeting.
When the meeting resumed, many of the protesters had left the council chambers and could be heard from inside still chanting Stephon Clark’s name.
Pastor Efrem Smith urged the council to find ways to bring the city together “and not deeper into a divide.” He also lamented the fact that Clark was unarmed and carried only his cellphone when he was killed by two white Sacramento police officers, one of whom yelled “gun, gun, gun” before fatally shooting him in his grandmother’s backyard.
“I grew up in a city, in a neighborhood where grandma’s backyard was a sacred place. I could play in grandma’s backyard. I could learn in grandma’s backyard. Sometimes I got a switch in my grandma’s backyard,” said Smith.
“But I never, ever thought I would die in my grandma’s back yard,” he added to a resounding applause.
Another resident, Barry Axias, told the council that “Sacramento is just like Ferguson,” a reference to the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
Axias then asked the audience to stand, take out their cellphones and point them at the sitting council members.
“Now does this look like a gun?! Does this look like a gun?!” he demanded.
The Sacramento community forum is scheduled to continue until 11 p.m. PT and will reconvene Wednesday at 1 p.m. PT, if necessary, to hear from any resident who wants to speak.
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