Balloons bobbed in the breeze and city luminaries gathered as Sequita Thompson stood in the living room of her newly refurbished home on the property where her grandson Stephon Clark was fatally shot in March by police officers.
“We’re very thankful,” Thompson said of the community effort to repair and beautify the house in Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood. “We are so grateful. But it’s not going to bring my baby back. We are still fighting for justice.”
With a mixture of joy and lingering sadness, Thompson, her husband Tommy and other relatives and supporters gathered Wednesday to mark the completion of the renovation project and to pray for healing.
Clark, 22, was unarmed when police mistook his cell phone for a weapon and fatally shot him in the backyard of his grandmother’s home. The death touched off a storm of protests and became national news. Relatives have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, and are pressing for criminal charges to be filed against the officers who killed Clark.
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Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert is currently reviewing the case to determine if officers broke any laws during the confrontation.
Clark’s killing spurred community leaders to rally around Thompson and her family. Supporters including Councilman Larry Carr, the Black Child Legacy Campaign, Habitat for Humanity, the Sierra Health Foundation and businessman Paul Blanco worked together to transform the aging home where Clark spent so many hours.
Today, the house has a new brick facade and paint, replacement windows and awnings, and landscaping featuring plants that require little water or tending.
“We want this to be the start of the healing process for this family,” said Jackie Rose, a community leader who has become a close friend of the Clarks and Thompsons. “We are wrapping our arms around them.” As she spoke, African drummer Charles Frost softly played songs of peace and comfort.
Sequita Thompson is unsure whether her emotional wounds will ever heal. Since her grandson was killed, she said, she cannot bring herself to enter the backyard of her property.
“I’m not sure I ever will,” she said.
The yard features a young crepe myrtle tree, a wooden swing and planters that in spring will hold tomato plants. On the concrete patio where he died, Stephon Clark’s name is scrawled onto the concrete.
Clark’s brother Stevante, whose grief played out in dramatic fashion following the shooting, took the podium at Wednesday’s ceremony to thank dozens of people and organizations that contributed to the home beautification. He also apologized for his erratic behavior and words in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
“I want to say I’m sorry to everyone I offended,” he said, and then laughed.
“But I don’t want this to deflect from the situation at hand,” Clark said. “I’m fighting for my brother’s legacy. I don’t want my brother’s name to ever die.”
The ceremony ended with a blessing, and a moment of silence for Stephon Clark.