Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Friday night at the state Capitol to protest the killings this week of African American men by police.
Holding signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “We challenge the police,” the group rallied at 12th and L streets. Dozens of law enforcement officers – some on horseback and some on bicycles – were nearby. Demonstrators began marching, chanting “We want justice” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
The rally, which was promoted on social media, came less than a day after the killings of five Dallas police officers, allegedly by a Army veteran who was African American. The Dallas demonstration was among those held nationally to protest the recent fatal shootings of two African American men in Louisiana and Minnesota by law enforcement officials.
Organizers of Friday evening’s march stressed that their intentions were peaceful.
“What happened yesterday in Dallas, that’s not us,” said Kevin Carter, a Sacramento resident representing Occupy the Dream and the League of Revolutionaries.
Anyone who thought they couldn’t march peacefully was instructed not to participate. A couple of confrontations with people on the sidelines were quickly quelled by marchers who urged their companions not to allow themselves to be baited.
One young man challenged Carter for focusing on the importance of black lives, saying that all lives matter. Carter said he agreed. When a woman participating in the rally shoved the young man, telling him to go away, Carter came to the man’s defense and others in the crowd moved to defuse the incident.
Organizers urged those participating in the march to work for change, saying they need to address the violence within their community that makes police fearful when they enter neighborhoods. They also stressed the need to promote education among young people, and to encourage more people of color to become lawyers and judges.
After marching twice around the Capitol grounds, the group closed together in prayer for the men killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, and for the law enforcement officers killed in Dallas.
The Friday evening march was not officially associated with the group Black Lives Matter. Legislative leaders closed the Capitol building at 5 p.m. in advance of the 6 p.m. rally.
Organizers of Friday’s march said a Black Lives Matter event will be held at noon Saturday at 6535 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Carmichael.
They also urged the crowd to attend the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and the July 19 Sacramento City Council meeting to speak out against police brutality.