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Stephon Clark Protests Flood Sacramento City Hall

By Sun Kim | California Black Media

SACRAMENTO, CA- Countless activists and protestors swarmed Sacramento City Hall in an effort to voice their concerns and feelings over the shooting of Stephon Clark.

On March 18, law enforcement officers encountered Clark while responding to neighborhood complaints of car windows being broken. Clark was then shot and killed by officers who mistakenly believed he was in possession of a gun but was found to only be holding his cell phone.

Community members protested last week, shutting down I-5 freeway in downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings games on the evening of March 18.  Nearly 300 or so individuals signed up to speak at the meetings that initially started at 1 p.m. earlier in the day.

Young kids at the march prepare to participate in the candlelight vigil.

Early in the forum, Stevante Clark, Clark’s younger brother, jumped on the council’s platform chanting his brother’s name. After Stevante stood on top of the podium and used obscene language, Mayor Darrell Steinberg called for a recess to appease tensions.

Crowds of people arrived well before the scheduled 5 p.m. start time to secure seats inside the chamber and others waited patiently outside and lobby. During the meeting, echoes of various chants filled the City Hall’s lobby and bled outside the building and carried thought out the block.

“Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell. Say his name! Stephon Clark.”

An adjunct group of protesters, who were not able to able to enter the City Hall, were returning from their protesting at the Golden 1 Center during the Kings game that was initially scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Stevante Clark,left, the brother of Stephon Clark, hoist up a t-shirt with the image of the 23-year-old man who was shot by Sacramento police officers in the backyard of his grandmother’s home, which was nearby where the protest took place at 29th Street and Florin Road in South Sacramento.Stevante Clark, who was riding in an SUV, blocked the intersection at 29th Street and Florin to thank the supporters. “I love you all he said.”

Many turned to social media to record the event and share their experiences. There were countless minors with their guardians and young adults that made the bulk of the crowd. The atmosphere was a mixture of angst and anxiety. Those that did not chant stood in silence holding signs and wearing Black Lives Matter or apparel that commemorated those that were lost in similar circumstances.

Protester Alexander Johnson stood stoically in the middle of the lobby, holding up a poster with #StephonClark and said, “I think this protest is a step. It’s working, and we just need to keeping taking small steps.”

Mother and Son, April Robison and James George, wore complimentary shirts standing hand-in-hand.

“I have already lost one son this way. I’m scared for my second son, I don’t want to lose another one,” April somberly spoke.

“I have a legacy I want to live and leave behind. I can’t do that if I’m dead,” said her son, James, who appeared to be a minor.

The counsel’s evening community forum, starting at 5 p.m. on March 27th, was initially schedule to last till 11 p.m. but was cut short an hour when a man was detained during the council meeting. There are plans that the forum will continue on Wednesday, March 28 that 1 p.m. allowing those that were not able to speak to do so.

Nation Watching as Sacramento Protests Police Killing of Stephon Clark

By Manny Otiko | California Black Media

Sacramento resident Stephon Clark became the latest unarmed Black male to die in a police-related shooting.  The story has spread across the national media to become the newest flashpoint amongst African-American activists and community leaders and the families who demand action on police violence.

According to reports, Clark, a father of two, was in his grandmother’s backyard as Sacramento police were following up on a call that a man was breaking car windows. The Sacramento Sheriff’s helicopter was providing air coverage while directing Sacramento officers on the ground. 

Upon encountering Clark, officers are heard on police body cam footage saying “gun, gun” and within seconds, immediately shot 20 rounds killing the father of two.

“Prior to the shooting, the involved officers saw the suspect facing them, advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands.  At the time of the shooting, the officers believed the suspect was pointing a firearm at them. After an exhaustive search, scene investigators did not locate any firearms.  The only item found near the suspect was a cell phone,” according to a Sacramento Police Department news release. 

Civil Rights Leaders 

In response to the shooting, Black Lives Matter and other Sacramento area activists staged a public protest shutting down a section of the I-5 later to form a human blockade preventing over 10,000 people from entering Golden One arena.  The Kings and the Boston Celtics both wore shirts featuring Clark’s name before their Sunday game.

Press Conference for Clark Family

A Coalition of community activists in support of the Clark family convened a press conference on March 26 at Sacramento City Hall calling for “justice, reform and healing.”

Clark’s grandmother Sequita Thompson recounted the night when she heard gunshots in her backyard. She recalled sitting on her computer and crawling on the floor to her 7-year-old granddaughter who was asleep on the couch when the shots started.

“They didn’t have to kill him like that,” said Thompson. “They didn’t have to shoot him that many times. Why didn’t you shoot him in the arm? Shoot him in the leg? Send the dogs, a taser … why? Over a cell phone? I just want justice for my grandson.” 

President of the Sacramento chapter of the NAACP Betty Williams met with Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn and put calls in to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert for regular updates.

“The unanswered question remains does the justice system have the capability of dispensing justice for all its citizens?” Said Williams.

The family retained Attorney Benjamin Crump who handled high-profile cases including Travon Martin and Michael Brown. 

“Since 2015 over 73 families have had to endure similar experiences. Over 70 Black Men have been shot and unarmed. This is oh to often a pattern in America,” said Crump.

Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network President, will attend Clark’s funeral on Thursday and deliver the eulogy. Sharpton has sent his West Coast representative Rev. Shane R. Harris, president of the San Diego chapter of NAN to provide counsel to the family. 

“NAN will stand hand in hand with the groups on the ground to ensure legislation is changed,” said Harris. 

“We will not let his name die, his name will live.”

 Harris expressed frustration last year with what he says is California’s lack of action on police shootings. He said that California is the bluest and most progressive state in the union, but other states are more advanced on prosecuting police violence. Harris challenged State Attorney General Xavier to take action on this issue.

Sharpton and other members of NAN have lobbied for Assembly Bill 284, the Deadly Force Act, which would have required all police shootings to be investigated by an independent team from the State Attorney General’s office. The bill has stalled in the legislature.

 Harris argued AB 284 is needed because local district attorneys cannot be trusted to conduct objective investigations of police shootings.

“It’s like students grading their own papers,” said Harris.

Olympian Whitney Ashley to Speak at Annual Young Women’s Conference

Whitney Ashley, graduate of J.W. North High School and former Olympian, will be the keynote speaker at the “I Am Enough” women’s conference.

RIVERSIDE, CA- “I Am Enough” is the theme for the 17th Annual Empowering Young Women Conference, a collaborative effort of the Adrian Dell and Carmen Roberts Foundation, Riverside Community College District, the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa, Riverside Police Foundation, Blumenthal Law Offices, and Dr. Kathy Wright. The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 in the Landis Auditorium located on the Riverside City College campus at 4800 Magnolia Avenue in Riverside.

This free conference, geared to young women ages 12 to 21 and their mothers/guardians, will feature informational workshops about health, nutrition, domestic violence, human trafficking, cyperbullying, social media issues, self-image and dress, college and careers as well as a fashion show, a poetry contest and a talent competition.

The morning keynote speaker, Whitney Ashley, is a J.W. North High School graduate and a former Olympian, whose specialty is the discus throw. She represented the United States at three consecutive Global Championships in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Dr. Leita Harris, professor at UC Riverside’s School of Medicine, and Obstetrician-Gynecologist, will be one of our afternoon keynote speakers.

The afternoon career panel includes Virginia Blumenthal, Member of the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees and one of the top 100 lawyers in the nation; Dr. FeRita Carter, Vice President, Student Services, Riverside City College; Carmen Cuevas, Senior Field Representative for California State Assembly Member, Jose Medina; May Lynn Davis, Founder of the Asian Lunar Fest; Commissioner Belinda Handy; Ninfa Delgado, Vice President and COO Riverside Community Health Foundation; and other notable female leaders and entrepreneurs. These dynamic and accomplished women will share their experiences and the steps they took to achieve their personal and career goals with the conference participants.

“We are very excited about this year’s conference as we have a cadre of excellent keynote and workshop speakers willing to share their knowledge and personal experiences with the young women,” said Conference Chair Wanda Scruggs. “Participants will receive breakfast, lunch, a goodie bag and information on everything from how to defend themselves to identifying human traffic perpetrators — all at no cost, thanks to the generosity of our wonderful sponsors.”

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz praised the conference for its excellence. “The Empowering Young Women Conference is a wonderful opportunity to expose young women to inspiring role models. The participants also receive practical advice for academic and professional success,” said Chief Diaz. “I am proud that the Riverside Police Department is able to contribute to the conference”.
 
All conference participants will receive a free continental breakfast, lunch, a goodie-filled tote bag and opportunities for great door prizes. Participants are requested to pre-register no later than Wednesday, April 11 at
www.empoweringyoungwomenconference.com.


About The Adrian Dell and Carmen Roberts Foundation
The Adrian Dell and Carmen Roberts Foundation (formerly Riverside Black History Parade Committee) is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization established in honor of founders Adrian Dell and Carmen Roberts. The foundation focuses on the development of events and activities such as: the Riverside Black History Parade, Expo and Car Show; Empowering Young Women’s Conference, and the Back-to-School Back Pack Giveaway event, which promotes positive family and cultural interaction in a cross section of communities.