'Whatever happens happens,' Black Lives Matter leader says of organic protests
Hundreds of protesters have marched in downtown Sacramento in the days since police fatally shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man.
The marchers have blocked fans' entrance to Kings games and massed in front of the offices of Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.
But just down the street from Schubert's office, the atmosphere inside the Sacramento County Courthouse has remained unruffled. A lighter-than-normal case calendar ahead of Easter was likely a factor, but staff at the busy downtown courthouse also adjusted and shortened schedules to anticipate possible impacts, court representatives said.
Sacramento Superior Court officials on Thursday sent a notice to all of its downtown locations to close at 3:15 p.m., after receiving word of another day of protests outside the district attorney's building at 901 G St. following Stephon Clark's funeral.
Courts spokeswoman Kim Pedersen said plans were in motion throughout the day Thursday to move defendants and adjust the daily calendar to keep the court's operations running smoothly.
About 30 defendants with matters scheduled for Patino Hall of Justice courtrooms at Sacramento Main Jail were moved to the main county courthouse so they could be heard more quickly and sent back to county custody at the main jail or Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center outside Elk Grove. The busy 1:30 p.m. Thursday arraignment calendar in the Patino courts was also pushed up 30 minutes to 1 p.m., Pedersen said.
A few blocks away, Sacramento's federal courthouse – one of the stops on Thursday's protest – closed its doors at 2 p.m., Pedersen said.
Sacramento Superior Court officials were also in contact with local law enforcement and courthouse security Tuesday as the state Attorney General's Office announced that it would oversee county prosecutors' investigation into Clark's death.
Staff met regularly with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, which provides security for the downtown courthouse. Some Sacramento Superior Court judges had the option to close their courtrooms early on Tuesday afternoon.
Some did, sending jurors home early.
Trial courtrooms, Pedersen said, had the discretion to go dark, but it was unknown how many closed their doors for the day.
"It's voluntary. There are measures in place if protesters come onto the property," Pedersen said Tuesday afternoon.
Arraignment courts at Sacramento County Main Jail and at the main county courthouse remained open, as did cavernous Department 1, where proceedings for convicted cop killer Luis Bracamontes were held.