A week after pledging to be a vocal player in awareness efforts surrounding the police shooting death of Stephon Clark, the Sacramento Kings announced they are teaming up with Black Lives Matter and local activist organization Build. Black. Coalition to respond to activist demand for support for the community and the grass roots.
The new initiative aims “to support the education of young people and to provide the workforce preparation and economic development efforts,” according to a statement from the Kings. The multi-year project is intended to spur “deep investment” into the Sacramento community, beginning with an education fund for Clark’s children.
Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg praised the team’s efforts in a statement: “It is clear to me and I know the Kings that there remains a huge gulf between the exciting Sacramento renaissance and the daily struggles experienced by so many in our communities, especially communities of color.
“The Kings actions are a real step towards addressing those underlying issues and connecting the excitement and vitality in downtown to our neighborhoods, which is exactly what motivated me to run for mayor,” Steinberg said.
The Kings will also co-sponsor a forum to hear community voices on the shooting incident Friday night called “Kings and Queens Rise: A Youth Voice Forum for Healing.”
Response from owner
Last week, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé made a public statement about Stephon Clark’s death following protests that blocked game attendees from entering their Golden 1 Center stadium.
He vowed that the NBA franchise would not be acting as if business is usual and “are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting with our own community,” he said. “[We’re] going to work really hard to prevent this kind of a tragedy from happening again.”
Just three days later, the Kings’ themselves, sported T-shirts on the court that called for “accountability” by the police department and memorialized Clark’s name. Additionally, players from the Kings and their opponents that day, the Boston Celtics, joined together in a PSA about the tragedies of police violence.
“These tragedies have to stop,” “There must be accountability,” “We will not stick to sports,” and “We will not shut up and dribble,” were a few of the sentiments expressed.
Tensions in Sacramento continue to rise as protests for justice in the death of Stephon Clark increase citywide and nationally. 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.
On Tuesday, Stephon’s brother Stevante Clark appeared at the specially-convened City Council meeting and loudly voiced his love for his brother and fellow protesters, as well as his criticism of to the mayor — whom he boldly faced within an inch of separation — and the media’s coverage.
A funeral for Clark was held Thursday. Clark, a Muslim, was set to be honored with a ghusl or Islamic ritual washing by revered Imam Omar Suleiman, but clerics were not able to perform the task because of the way the 20 bullets wounds he received mangled his body.
Imam Omar Suleiman expressed frustration over the inability to perform the ritual on Twitter.
#StephonClark was massacred. His body was in such bad shape that we couldn’t do the ritual washing (ghusl).
The brothers did a substitute ritual (tayammum) and are horrified by the sight.
We cannot allow this to keep happening.
— Omar Suleiman (@omarsuleiman504) March 29, 2018
Meanwhile, California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that he was joining the investigation into Clark’s death. His office will oversee the probe and review the Sacramento Police Department’s policies and use of force training, according to the San Jose Mercury News.