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Why a Black Lives Matter activist urged Sacramento to change its justice system

Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King weighs in on Sacramento’s upcoming district attorney race

Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King weighs in on Sacramento’s upcoming district attorney race
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Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King weighs in on Sacramento’s upcoming district attorney race

Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King weighed in on Sacramento's upcoming races for district attorney and sheriff Sunday, urging people to "change the justice system," bringing the shooting of Stephon Clark center stage as a campaign issue.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 200 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on Stockton Boulevard, King said people think of California "as a place that really has itself together."

"There's a reputation California has that doesn't match its reality sometimes," he said, "so when we see an unarmed, nonviolent brother killed in his own backyard, from the outside there was an assumption that there would be people here ... who would make sure there's some type of justice. And what I came to understand very quickly, just probably 48 hours or so after (Clark) was murdered, that's not really the reality here."

King is among the leaders for Real Justice, a federal political action committee, aiming at replacing incumbent district attorneys with candidates who have more progressive platforms, its website states.

King, who is based in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he was calling for the people of Sacramento County to replace District Attorney Ann Marie Schubert because of her financial ties to law enforcement groups and what he said was her record of not prosecuting cases against police officers. The Bee reported Schubert received $13,000 in campaign contributions from local law enforcement unions after Stephon Clark's death.

Schubert has been endorsed by Democratic city officials, including Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Councilwoman Angelique Ashby and Councilman Eric Guerra.

King was critical of the way Schubert has handled the Clark case, saying he had "never seen a DA build a chain-link fence around their office." Her office did so, citing employee concerns that protesters were entering her building. He also criticized her absences at debates held by the NAACP and ACLU.

Schubert's office will decide whether to file criminal charges against the two Sacramento Police Department officers who shot Clark.

King said he was frustrated that there appears to him to be a lack of prosecution against police officers in brutality cases and no justice for the families of victims.

"What we failed to understand is people in power, they don't care how we felt. They were sincerely willing to wait our protest out. They were willing to watch it and wait," he said.

King endorsed Noah Phillips, a deputy district attorney who is campaigning on a platform that includes pushing for greater public access to police officer body camera footage and curtailing low-level drug cases that he argues unfairly target minority populations.

Phillips’ campaign has reported more than $19,000 in contributions from Real Justice.

Milo Fitch, who is running against Sheriff Scott Jones, was also endorsed by King.

"We will do everything we can to elect (Phillips and Fitch) and then hold them accountable afterward," King said.

King has become an influential voice in civil rights issues across the country. He is also a prominent speaker for Black Lives Matter, often weighing in on high profile police shootings and brutality cases.

He is a columnist for The Intercept, where he recently wrote a column about law enforcement contributions to Schubert's campaign for re-election.

King has a large presence on social media, with more than 1.7 million followers on Facebook and 942,000 followers on Twitter.

Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1176, @SullivanMollyM