Six months after Stephon Clark’s death, protests continue at Sacramento DA’s office
On Tuesday, the six-month anniversary of the police shooting death of Stephon Clark, a group led by the local chapter of Black Lives Matter will protest outside of the Sacramento Convention Center during a conference of law enforcement officials.
The slate of speakers is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at a demonstration against fatal police shootings of African Americans — most notably Clark, an unarmed man killed in Meadowview as officers responded to reports of someone breaking car windows.
“We will let them know, not in our streets,” the group said in a news release about the CopsWest Training & Expo, an annual conference of 1,500 officers sponsored by California Peace Officers Association taking place Tuesday and Wednesday.
Speakers include Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza; Yolanda Banks, the mother Sahleem Tindle, a 20-year-old shot and killed earlier this year a West Oakland BART station; and the Rev. Kevin Kitrell Ross of Unity of Sacramento and the Association for Global New Thought.
Protesters from Los Angeles have chartered a bus, according to Tanya Faison, founder of the local chapter of BLM. Other community groups joining in the protest include Women for Equality, the Anti Police Terror Project, the Justice Team Network, and the Sacramento Justice League.
During a news conference for a shooting that left one deputy killed and another injured Monday in Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones encouraged others to should head to the convention center to support police.
“We have a planned protest tomorrow at a statewide law enforcement conference down in Sacramento,” Jones said. “I know people have this overwhelming urge to do what they can. ... One of the things you can do is go down there. Go down to the convention center tomorrow between 11 and 1 and show your support for law enforcement.”
Berry Accius, a community organizer involved in the rally, said Jones’ comment was a call to action.
“Scott Jones is declaring war on activists,” Accius said. “ If there is any kind of clash, we know who will be protected and who will be arrested.”
Faison called Jones’ remarks encouraging a counterprotest Tuesday unprofessional and “extremist.”
“He doesn’t seem to understand why we are out there,” she said of the months of protests organized by her group. “We are fighting so that can live, and he just wants to be right. The only thing he should be doing is making changes in his department.”
Jones’ office on Tuesday morning issued a “clarification” of the sheriff’s comments. Though he asked community members to show up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - directly coinciding with the Black Lives Matter protest - he said their appearance wouldn’t be a counterprotest.
“Sheriff Jones never called for a counterprotest - which would encourage responding persons to protest or address the planned protest directly - but rather gave the community an outlet for their grief and support where over a hundred Sheriff’s Department personnel and law enforcement from around the state will be gathered to learn better ways to police their communities,” said Sgt. Shaun Hampton in a statement.
“It is neither the intent nor the desire of Sheriff Jones or the Sheriff’s Department to disrupt anyone’s exercise of free speech, no matter how misguided it may be. If community members are to respond today, the expectation would be for them to do so in a respectful manner consistent with Deputy Stasyuk’s memory.”
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Since the Clark shooting, Black Lives Matter staged demonstrations and thrice-weekly cookouts in front of the office of Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, calling for the prosecution of the officers involved.
Police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said last week that the department hasn’t completed its internal investigation of the Clark shooting, not unusual in the inquiries of officer-involved shootings in Sacramento. Schubert’s office and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said they each plan to review that investigation to evaluate criminal wrongdoing by the officers.
The recent shooting of another young black man, Darell Richards, by city police has stoked discontent. Video and audio released Friday shows Richards had what was later determined to be a pellet gun that looked like a Sig Sauer P225 9 mm handgun.
But the body camera of a SWAT officer who shot Richards was accidentally turned off prior to the officer firing shots, according to the department, and the camera angles of the other officers involved don’t show Richards being shot. The department disclosed the camera problem in response to questions from The Bee.