His outbursts have shut down Sacramento council meetings. City Hall wants a restraining order

Watch Sacramento City Council meeting erupt with angry Stephon Clark protesters

The Sacramento City Council meeting on March 5, 2019 took an intermission after a disruption during the public comment period. Sacramento residents were angry about arrests that happened during a Stephon Clark protest the previous evening.
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The Sacramento City Council meeting on March 5, 2019 took an intermission after a disruption during the public comment period. Sacramento residents were angry about arrests that happened during a Stephon Clark protest the previous evening.

It’s been a tense year at Sacramento City Council meetings.

Activists and residents angered over the police shooting of Stephon Clark have packed the chambers at City Hall, often giving emotional speeches over what they say is a mistreatment by police in Sacramento’s disadvantaged neighborhoods. Protesters have been ordered to leave council meetings, Mayor Darrell Steinberg has been the target of loud insults and police have increased their presence at City Hall.

Now, the city is taking the unusual step of filing a petition for a restraining order against a man who has made threatening comments toward City Council members and police during meetings, screamed expletives at the mayor and whose outbursts have caused multiple meetings to be shut down or delayed.

Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan and Council members Eric Guerra, Jay Schenirer and Jeff Harris Friday filed the petition for a “workplace violence restraining order” in Sacramento Superior Court against Alexander Clark. It was granted the same day, banning Clark from City Hall until at least April 12.

Under the restraining order, Clark will not be allowed within 300 yards of Chan and the council members, their homes, their cars and City Hall until at least his court hearing, which is scheduled for April 12, according to court records.

If Clark disobeys the order, he could be arrested, city spokesman Tim Swanson said.

Clark is not affiliated with the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter. On a slip he filled out to speak at the March 5 council meeting, Clark said he was a member of Brothers in Arms and the Black Panther Party.

He did not provide a phone number or email on the speaker slip and could not be reached for comment.

Clark, who has said he is from the Midwest, has been speaking at City Council meetings for nearly a year, following the fatal police shooting of unarmed Stephon Clark in March 2018. Alexander Clark is not related to Stephon Clark, but says he is related to Jamar Clark, who was killed by police in Minneapolis in 2015.

On April 19, 2018, a month after Stephon Clark was killed, Alexander Clark said to council members during a meeting, “I feel like if it was up to me, all y’all motherf------ would be dead.”

Clark’s outbursts caused council meetings to end early or go in to recess on Jan. 22, March 5 and March 12.

During a March 5 meeting — the day after police arrested 84 people during a Stephon Clark protest in East Sacramento — dozens of people spoke to the council, sometimes yelling or cursing, but staying within the three-minute time limit before returning to their seats.

During Clark’s turn at the lectern, Steinberg asked him to watch his language. “Shut the f--- up,” Alexander Clark responded, before jumping on top of the lectern, prompting Steinberg to order a meeting recess.

A court document signed by Schenirer, Guerra and Harris about the incident read: “He jumped up onto the lectern and, for a moment, I was fearful he was going to hop over the security ropes and charge the dais. As the disruption he caused grew and the volume of Mr. Clark’s voice went up, I became more anxious, fearful, and threatened — especially knowing this was the man who made a death threat against me, and everyone else on the dais, less than one year ago.”

On March 12, Alexander Clark stood up from the audience and started shouting, prompting Steinberg to tell him to leave. When he did not, council members left the chambers, and officers stood in a circle around Clark while he ranted. Clark said, “I’m insane motherf-----. That’s how I feel. I’m to the point I can pop off at any given moment just like anybody out here and start killing f---ing cops.”

Chan included that comment in a court document, and others he found while reviewing the officers’ body camera footage taken that day.

“The above referenced threatening conduct of Mr. Clark, which spans the past eleven months, has caused me to feel shocked, disturbed, and angry,” a court document signed by Chan read. “I fear for the safety of City staff present during City Council meetings and those who may have to interact with Mr. Clark in their official capacity in the future.”

The city has petitioned the court for temporary restraining orders in the past, said Swanson, the city spokesman. He declined to say when the most recent one was, though, because of employee privacy concerns.

“The City of Sacramento takes its obligation to public safety very seriously and strongly supports the right of all employees to work in a safe environment, one that is free from threats of violence,” Swanson said in a statement.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.