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Funeral services for Stephon Clark will take place today at 11:00 a.m. PST at the Bayside BOSS Church in Sacramento, CA.
Rev. Al Sharpton is set to deliver the eulogy, a task he has unfortunately become accustomed to over the years. As President of the National Action Network, Sharpton has witnessed his share of families mourning the untimely passing of a brother, husband, father, cousin and friend whose only crimes are being unarmed, young, male, and Black. In the case of Clark, he is one of many who have died at the hands of local law enforcement.
More than a hashtag
Stephon Clark was a 22-year old, father of two who was shot at 20 times and killed in his backyard on March 18 by two Sacremento police officers. First reports indicated that Clark fit the description of a suspect who was moving through the Gardens neighborhood vandalizing cars with a crowbar. Once confronted, the police reported they saw Clark with a gun and reacted in fear for their safety. When Clark failed to obey their commands, they responded with a shower of bullets. Body cam video has since exposed the truth that neither scenario happened. Instead, Clark was unarmed and only had an iPhone on him, which was found near his body.
As national outrage intensifies, the city of Sacramento is stuck some place in between overwhelming grief and incredible rage. Black Lives Matter, the NAACP and other civil rights groups are demanding justice while Clark’s family prepares to lay him to rest.
Civil Rights attorney Benjamin Crump represents the family and has hired a medical examiner to conduct an independent autopsy. A team of law enforcement experts has also been deployed to appraise the police video of the shooting.
“The family is doing the best they can under the circumstances,” said Crump in an interview with theGrio. “Stephon’s grandmother is clearly the matriarch of the family and she was there that night. He was executed about five feet from her bedroom window where she still has to sleep. Each time she looks out that window, she is reminded of her grandson’s execution.”
Crump thinks the plan for justice is pretty straight forward.
“I have no doubt we will get justice for the family in civil court, now the question is whether or not the prosecutors are going to do their job,” said Crump. “Also, remember that elected officials are the only ones who can put people in jail. When our community gets discouraged about things like this always happening then they need to get involved and vote these people who are unresponsive to our needs out of office.”
A final goodbye
During Clark’s wake, family, friends and even strangers said their goodbyes to the young man who is described as “funny and handsome.” Former Kings forward, Matt Barnes didn’t know Clark, but as a Sacramento native who felt compelled to do something more, Barnes plans to attend today’s funeral. He is also helping to plan a march on Saturday, March 31 to continue the public outcry for justice. Crump says both T.I. and Nick Cannon have expressed an interest in attending.
None of that will bring Clark back to his children, his girlfriend, his parents, siblings or the grandmother, who has to go back to the home where he was killed. The only hope people across the city have is this possibility of change that is simmering within young protestors. They are making their voices heard and demanding people listen.
“I’m so proud of these young people. They have an enthusiasm and strategy that I have not seen since Ferguson,” said Crump. “We refuse to be silent and we refuse to accept the status quo of them killing us and getting away with it, which reminds me of that Angela Davis quote that says, ‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.’”