The Sacramento Kings announced the team would close the Golden 1 Center plaza to everyone but ticketed guests and employees Monday in anticipation of possible protests at tonight’s game with the New York Knicks.
The announcement follows a relatively calm weekend of protests after District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced Saturday she wouldn’t file charges against the two police officers who killed Stephon Clark.
Around 11 a.m., crews were setting up cyclone fencing around the entrance to the Sawyer Hotel and canvas covered fences were erected along parts of the Fifth Street entrance to the plaza. Another fence was set up at the plaza entrance next to Macy’s and along L Street.
“Today, the plaza will close in the early afternoon and will only re-open to ticketed guests to ensure safe entry into the arena for the game tonight,” the Kings said in a statement released Monday morning. “Ticket checks will be in place on the perimeter of the plaza and an increased security presence will be on-site to assist ticketed guests. To expedite entry, guests are encouraged to arrive early and have their ticket ready to show staff.”
Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Last spring, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Clark — an unarmed black man — protesters effectively closed off the main arena entrances before two games. The games were played before sparse crowds that arrived early, while thousands of ticketholders milled outside the building, unable to get inside. Shouting matches and scuffles flared up between protesters and fans.
The Kings and the city responded with beefed-up security; temporary barriers were erected so only ticket holders could get access to the plaza around the arena. The team hadn’t commented until Monday on what security measures would be in place this year, other than to express confidence that fans will be safe.
Sonia Lewis of Black Lives Matter Sacramento told The Sacramento Bee this weekend that there “is nothing planned at this moment that I know of” that would involve a protest at the arena.
But, she added, “If we were planning something, we wouldn’t give the media a heads up.”
Meanwhile, the Kings and community activists announced that they’re holding another event Tuesday.
The event, called “Kings and Queens Rise: A Forum for Justice and Healing,” will be held in partnership with the Build. Black. Coalition, the alliance the Kings created with black activist groups last spring. Among the speakers will be Kings forward Harrison Barnes and team broadcaster Doug Christie. It will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at South Sacramento Christian Center.
Last week the team hosted a lengthy forum on social justice at Golden 1 Center that culminated with the Kings Foundation announcing it was donating $50,000 in scholarships to inner-city youth.