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With Stevante Clark's pain laid bare to the world, a family friend pleads for help

Brother of Stephon Clark enters church, drapes himself over casket

Stevante Clark enters the church for the funeral of his brother Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old Sacramento man whose shooting death by police 11 days ago sparked protests and a call for police reform.
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Stevante Clark enters the church for the funeral of his brother Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old Sacramento man whose shooting death by police 11 days ago sparked protests and a call for police reform.

Stevante Clark's pain is naked for Sacramento – and suddenly, the world – to see.

The brother of 22-year-old Stephon Clark has seemingly been everywhere in the days since his brother's death March 18 at the hands of police – one of the most visible and visceral symbols of a community's and a family's anguish.

Stephon Clark was shot dead by Sacramento police in his grandparents' Meadowview backyard two weeks ago Sunday. In words raw with emotion at a downtown Sacramento rally Saturday for his brother and a call for unity, a family friend tried to explain why Stevante Clark is hurting.

"Stevante has post-traumatic stress disorder. He has lost two of his brothers to violence. He has lost his older brother. He has lost his baby brother, and he is starting to lose his mind. He needs help," Jamilia Land told the hundreds gathered at Cesar E. Chavez Plaza for the rally sponsored by former Kings forward Matt Barnes, a Sacramento native.

Stephon Clark's death has become international news and a call for change and justice even as the Clark family deals with the painful reality of his loss.

Already the images of the last week have become touchstones in the tragedy: Stevante Clark's sprint to the top of the mayor's dais at Sacramento City Hall, exhorting protesters in front of Golden 1 Center and appealing to them in front of the Sacramento federal courthouse.

"I've got to stand up for black people. It's about us now. We need to work on the city now. It's 'Sac Lives Matter,' " he said outside the courthouse Thursday, before imploring the crowd, 'Protest peacefully.' "

There was Stevante, his body draped in grief atop his slain brother's coffin at Stephon Clark's wrenching memorial service; the way he held tight to Rev. Al Sharpton in the wings of the church's stage; the way he struggled to make sense of another loss after another funeral.

But he wants to build something out of his family's tragedy. At the funeral Thursday, Clark made one of several references about pushing for the city for change in poorer neighborhoods, including opening libraries and community resources centers.

"We’re going to forgive the mayor. Amen? Everybody say, 'We love the mayor.' He’s going to help us get the library done, he’s gone to help us get the resource center done, and if he doesn’t we’re going to hold him accountable."

Later, his grief was again laid bare following the service.

"I was a human before this," he told reporters. "My name is Stevante Clark. My life is different. I don't eat. I don't sleep. Imagine being famous over the death of your relative. They don't see you. They see your brother. They see a death."

Land cautioned the media and the public of portraying Stevante as "crazy," and of dehumanizing Stephon, extending her emotional address to the need for mental health services and the steep toll of "living in communities that are like war zones."

"Where are the mental health resources?" Land said, her voice rising. "He needs help. It's not rare. It just had to have happened like this."

The Bee's Tony Bizjak contributed to this report.

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