Tensions in Sacramento are reaching new heights as protests for justice in the death of Stephon Clark increase citywide. California’s Department of Justice is conducting an independent investigation, and civil rights attorney Ben Crump is now representing the family, but the frustrations of African Americans in the city continue to simmer.
That became apparent when Stephon’s brother, Stevante Clark, appeared at the specially-convened City Council meeting Tuesday, interrupted the speaker, and jumped atop the podium to give a direct message to the mayor, protesters, and the media.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the special counsel was called to address Clark’s shootings and many others that were similar.
The late afternoon meeting with council members began with a moment of silence for Clark. Residents of the city then testified for hours about the racism and prejudice they’ve endured at the hands of the police, saying that many of the actions they have claimed were for the purpose of unifying the city have been meaningless.
“This city is killing us,” Malaki Seku-Amen, founder of the California Urban Partnership, said at the meeting. “And we demand economic equity and justice.”
Later into the night, the crowd had swelled and protesters asked for them to show restraint so that the meeting could continue.
News reports say that around that point, that Stevante Clark burst into the chambers as Councilman Larry Carr began to speak, and chanted his brother’s name loudly, asking for others to join in.
According to DailyMail, Clark ran up to Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s desk at the podium, turned around, and addressed the crowd, asking, “Do you love me?” to chants of “Yes!”
When Steinberg reportedly tried to speak to him, Clark shouted, “Shut the f— up” into the mic, also to the audience who tried to calm him down.
“If you really love me …,” he said, pausing, “My brother just got shot.” He then continued addressing the audience.
“The mayor and the city of Sacramento have failed, you hear me? Rent is too high, the gang-banging has to stop, the poverty is uncontrollable.
“He has no emotion,’ Clark said, speaking of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “The cops want to kill me because I know they’re probably sick of this s*** right now.”
Clark also expressed his dissatisfaction with the press, stating they are trying to ‘exploit our pain’ before he ended his rant by saying, “If you’re not Black, you’re white.”
Days prior, Steinberg said that he doesn’t believe that race was a factor in this case.
“I do not believe that these officers or the Police Department are racist,” Steinberg said. “However, implicit and structural racism pervades every aspect of American life, including education, law enforcement and public safety. And to talk about the tragic death of Stephon Clark without acknowledging that and viewing it through this lens would be wrong.”
Clark, dressed in a shirt with his brother’s image, attempted to charge the council members again but was taken out by a group of his friends.
Outside, people chanted Stephon Clark’s name and pounded on the windows. Officers dressed in helmets and riot gear blocked the entrance for others.
Many people were dissatisfied with how the night dissolved, including activist Rashid Sidge, saying, “We are better than this.”
Pastor Les Simmons asked the crowd to join hands in prayer as they reconvened. But by 8:25 p.m., Mayor Steinberg decided to adjourn the meeting early due to the protests taking place outside of the council meeting as well as outside of the King’s Golden 1 Center blocks away.
Evident through Stevante’s anger, pain, and frustration is the culmination of the loss of yet another loved one due to the hands of the police, as well as the rising tensions throughout the city between enforcement and protesters.
“What you saw today was the truth. “You’re killing us. … It feels like genocide,” said Tanya Faison of Black Lives Matter, who wants the officers involved in Clark’s shooting to be fired.