Lawmakers, businesses warned as Sacramento awaits Stephon Clark decision

Stephon Clark rally turns tense

Friday’s march for shooting victim Stephon Clark turned tense as protestors surrounded police and motorists.
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Friday’s march for shooting victim Stephon Clark turned tense as protestors surrounded police and motorists.

LATEST »» Sacramento DA: No charges against police officers who shot Stephon Clark

Lawmakers were told to avoid the Capitol and downtown store owners were warned to anticipate crowds and to protect themselves Friday as Sacramento awaits District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s decision on whether to charge police officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark.

The Assembly sent an email telling staff and lawmakers to avoid the Capitol and Legislative Office Building on Friday evening and through the weekend. The Senate told its members that movement in and around the Capitol “may be challenging” this weekend.

“The Sacramento County District Attorney may announce within the next few days whether she will file criminal charges in the Stephon Clark case,” the email said. “Thoughtful precautions and heightened awareness will go a long way toward ensuring everyone’s safety.”

Separate emails sent Friday morning by downtown and midtown business coalitions urged store owners to be patient and protect themselves. The Midtown Association and Downtown Sacramento Partnership advised business owners to be prepared if protests develop following Schubert’s announcement.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announces results Saturday, March 2, 2019, of the investigation into the 2018 shooting of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police.

“If a demonstration is occurring in immediate proximity to your business and you experience any safety concerns, have a plan to close or lock your doors and remain inside,” the Midtown Association email said. “If you are aware of a demonstration coming to your area, you may choose not to place customers on your patios or outdoor spaces, and may consider removing unsecured outdoor furniture.”

Clark, 22, was fatally shot in his grandparents’ Meadowview backyard on March 18, 2018 after a brief foot chase with police, who were responding to a report of someone smashing car windows and thought Clark pointed a gun at them. The item in Clark’s hand was an iPhone.

Protestors swarmed midtown and downtown streets for weeks after the shooting, blocking off Golden 1 Center and and are expected to gather again if the officers are not charged.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra is also expected to release the California Department of Justice’s criminal analysis in the near future. The state DOJ recently published a report calling for more than 40 institutional changes within the Sacramento Police Department.

Both business-related emails list Sacramento Police Department phone numbers for business owners to call in case of emergency as well as specific neighborhood organizations normally tasked with maintenance and upkeep.

“Downtown is home to daily gatherings and marches in and around the State Capitol and we rarely have issues with private businesses being targeted or damaged due to such activities,” the Downtown Sacramento Partnership email said. “It is always important to remember basic security tips for any demonstration. We encourage you to call for assistance from the Sacramento Police Department should you have people or property that become targeted for violence or vandalism.”

Clark’s family has filed a $20 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.