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A Black officer of the California Highway Patrol says he withstood taunts of “Uncle Tom” during a protest over the death of Stephon Clark because that’s how he was trained.
The Sacramento Bee reported, that Sgt. Ron Wade was the lone Black officer in a group of about 30 lined up near an on ramp during the protest Friday focused on the death of Clark, who was shot dead in a hail of 20 bullets in his grandmother’s backyard after police said they thought he had a “tool bar.”
Stephon Clark was only holding his cell phone.
During the protest, participants reportedly shouted “Uncle Tom,” insulted his family and accused him of being a tool for the white man, according to the Bee.
“It seemed to go on for an hour,” said Wade, a husband, father and 20-year-plus highway patrol veteran.
He explained to the news organization that he withstood the taunts because as a member of the Special Response Team, he is trained to do so.
“Our stoic stance is part of our training,” Wade told the Bee. “Protesting is their right and it’s not my job to tell them that their cause is right or wrong. It’s my job to keep them safe.
Wade admitted that he was hurt by the incident and that what got to him the most was when protesters told him that he wasn’t Black.
“No matter what, I’m always going to be Black,” Wade said. “I’m on this job to help people, no matter what race they are.”
The investigation continues
Last week, the Sacramento Police Department released three videos, two with audio and one from an aerial view, in an attempt to dispel the criticism they were receiving for the Stephon Clark shooting of Stephon Clark.
But the videos raised even more questions.
In an attempt to address concerns, the Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn joined Gadi Schwartz for a special interview on NBC News.
“This is a tragic event, especially for the family and friends, but also for the community at large and for the police department,” said Chief Hahn, who is Sacramento’s first Black Police Chief. “I really wanted people to have a conversation about the facts and one of the best ways for people to see as many facts as they can is by watching it with their own eyes.”
“The officers responded to a call and, ultimately, were able to see the subject they believe was responsible for the breaking into the cars that they were there for. Helicopters were over their head and they chased them. They felt that their lives were in danger and they fired.”
Schwartz asks an important question, one of which has been among the lead causes adding to the hostility between the police and the protestors following the death of Stephon Clark.
“Why did the officers turn off the [microphones] on their cameras?”
“I don’t know,” responded Chief Hahn, “so that’s all part of the investigation of the reason for that. There are various reasons why somebody would, I just don’t know what their reason was.”
The family of Stephon Clark, along with civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, held a press conference Monday to call for the police officers responsible for Clark’s death to be criminally charged.
“The DA didn’t respond to us, and that gives us a leg to stand on” said Alice Huffman, head of the California NAACP. Huffman said the pressure on the police won’t cease “until they stop gunning down our people like animals.”
Crump is representing the Clark family and said an independent autopsy of the 22-year-old’s body is underway as the family prepares to view him. His funeral is scheduled for Thursday.
“No family should have to endure this pain and suffering as they try to seek answers for the execution of their loved one who was only holding a cell phone.
“We will stand up for Stephon, we will speak up for Stephon…until we get justice,” said Crump, who also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown – two victims of racially charged killings who became household names.