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Activists begin 8 days of protest, seek accountability for Stephon Clark, Brandon Smith

Watch silent ‘8 days, 8 shots’ protest protest at Sacramento Police Department

Local activists and community members participate in a silent protest at the Sacramento Police Station on the second day of the “8 days, 8 shots” protest on June 20, 2018. The eight days are meant to symbolize the eight times Stephon Clark was shot.
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Local activists and community members participate in a silent protest at the Sacramento Police Station on the second day of the “8 days, 8 shots” protest on June 20, 2018. The eight days are meant to symbolize the eight times Stephon Clark was shot.

Nearly three months after Stephon Clark was shot and killed by two Sacramento police officers, the African American community is making a new push to keep the discussion of police use-of-force at the forefront.

Local activists and community members began eight days of protests and civil disobedience Tuesday to demand police accountability in the deaths of Clark and Brandon Smith, who died in police custody June 6, according to a news release.

The eight days are meant to symbolize the eight times Clark was shot, said Ryan McClinton, community organizer for Sacramento Area Congregations Together, an advocacy group.

The demonstration began Tuesday at a City Council meeting. The gallery was full, with many holding purple "8 days, 8 shots" signs. Activists and community members spoke during public comment, asking City Council to hold police officers accountable for the deaths of Clark and Smith.

Tanya Faison, founder of Sacramento Black Lives Matter, said to the City Council, "I'm back in here again unfortunately because somebody else died in police custody, Sac PD custody. It's not even been three months since Stephon was killed. We don't even have an investigation that's been completed as far as we know and we have another death on our hands in police custody, Brandon Smith."

Smith died of unknown causes while being transported by a Sacramento Police officer to the Sacramento County jail on June 6. Police released body camera footage of Smith's transport on June 13 as a part of a city policy mandating videos in critical incidents such as deaths in custody be made public within 30 days of the occurrence.

In it, Smith is heard saying, "I'm f----- up. I feel like I'm having a heart attack. Oh my god," as a Sacramento officer escorts him to a police truck. Smith is hoisted in the truck, where he falls loudly on the metal floor. When the vehicle arrived at the jail, Smith was found in the back unresponsive. After emergency services performed CPR, Smith was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"You need to start firing these officers because they're not going to stop doing this until you start giving them repercussions," Faison said.

The groups involved in "8 days, 8 shots" are also demanding for the two officers who shot Clark to be terminated from the police department, charged with a crime, tried and convicted, according to the release.

While the department has not released the names of the two officers involved, civil rights attorney John Burris identified them as Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet after the Sacramento Police Department released footage of the incident three days after the shooting.

Robinet and Mercadal were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting and returned to work April 9.

They are "not working on patrol for safety reasons," said Sgt. Vance Chandler, spokesman for the department.

The investigation into the shooting continues. Chandler said he doesn't have a time frame for when it will conclude.

On Wednesday, activists will continue to protest at the Sacramento Police Department on Freeport Boulevard, said McClinton of SacAct.

Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1176, @SullivanMollyM

The Sacramento City Council hears from Tonya Faison, founder of Sacramento Black Lives Matter, about the death of Brandon Smith while in police custody. She chastises the council for not paying full attention while she's speaking.

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