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'Black men might be better off at home,' local columnist writes after Stephon Clark shooting

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A columnist for a weekly paper in Rancho Murieta, a gated community southeast of Sacramento, drew social media condemnation Friday after suggesting that black men should stay in their houses after dark in the wake of the Stephon Clark shooting.

"Police have to be careful not to overreact, and you black men might be better off at home after a certain hour," columnist Marcia Courson wrote in her most recent piece for The River Valley Times, a community newspaper owned by Herburger Publications.

"(W)e need to ask ourselves before overreacting or advocating reduction of these shootings — Do we really understand why a shooting occurred?" Courson wrote in another part of the column.

The column was about the difficulty of understanding the news, and having an ability to affect outcomes in some situations, including the Clark shooting.

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A column in the River Valley Times, a community newspaper in Rancho Murieta near Sacramento, advised black men to stay home after dark in the wake of the Stephon Clark shooting. Courtesy of Chris Macias

Rancho Murieta is home to about 5,000 residents, 89 percent white and about 1 percent — or 70 people — black, according to the 5-year U.S. Census American Community Survey.

Stephon Clark, 22, was shot by two Sacramento police officers on March 18 in south Sacramento. The officers responded to a call about a person breaking car windows and pursued Clark into what was later determined to be his grandmother's backyard. Apparently mistaking his cellphone for a gun, they shot him eight times.

River Valley Times publisher Dave Herburger said he was responsible for allowing the column to run but that it was "a complete miss" on his part. Herburger said the paper's editor was out because of a family illness and he had failed to read the column before it published.

He said the piece was "not acceptable."

"It connotes Nazi Germany," Herburger said. "Having a race-based curfew is totally unacceptable."

Herburger said he had spoken to Courson and she was crafting a response that would run in the next edition. He said Courson was "very apologetic."

An email request to Courson for comment was not immediately returned.

Herburger said Courson had written for the paper for about 10 years. He did not know if she would continue to do so.

The column was only available in print and is not posted online.

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