Protests shut down Sacramento Kings game, freeways over Stephon Clark's death
Outraged over the latest police shooting of an unarmed black man, hundreds of protesters flooded the streets of Sacramento, California, on Thursday, even forcing an events center into lockdown minutes before an NBA game.
The daylong demonstration was held in response to Sacramento police officers killing 22-year-old Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ backyard on Sunday night while responding to reports of car break-ins. The Sacramento Police Department said officers believed Clark had advanced toward them while holding a gun, though police only found a cellphone on him after an exhaustive search.
Demonstrators on Thursday first stormed the buildings of Sacramento City Hall before moving out to the streets and marching down Interstate 5, the Sacramento Bee reported. They also gathered in front of the Golden 1 Center and, with linked arms, blocked ticket holders from entering the arena for a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks.
Protesters carried signs that demanded justice and criticized police officers for shootings of unarmed people, especially black men.
Some in the crowd carried signs that read, “Stop killing us” and “Black lives matter,” along with other messages demanding justice.
At City Hall, protesters chanted, “It’s a phone, not a gun,” according to Ezra David Romero of Sacramento’s Capital Public Radio News.
Protesters also chanted, “Say his name. Stephon Clark!”
Police on Wednesday released footage showing the moments before and after officers shot and killed Clark while responding to reports of car break-ins. The videos were filmed from a sheriff’s helicopter and several body cameras.
While following Clark’s movements, deputies in the helicopter said they witnessed Clark shattering a sliding glass door before he encountered police, according to a department press release.
In aerial footage of the incident, thermal images show Clark running through a yard and hopping a fence. He stops at the home he shares with his two young children and grandparents. It is there that he’s confronted by two police officers.
The body camera footage shows officers running into Clark’s grandparents’ backyard. From around a corner, one officer yells at Clark to show them his hands. Then an officer can be heard yelling “gun,” prompting both officers to open fire.
The officers, who fired 10 rounds each at Clark, said they believed he was holding a gun. The police department also said officers thought Clark was carrying a toolbar used to smash windows.
The only thing officers found on Clark was a cellphone.
After protesters blocked the entrance to Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings were forced to keep the arena’s doors closed to ticket holders.
The game started after a delay, with many seats remaining empty in the arena.
“Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home,” the Kings said in an official statement. “We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”
Outside of the Golden 1 Center, some protesters told ABC 10′s Frances Wang that they weren’t sorry for the ticket holders who weren’t able to enter the Kings game, “because as black people, they have been inconvenienced their whole lives,” Wang tweeted.
Stephon’s brother Stevante Clark spoke to the crowds outside of the Kings’ game, saying that the police “killed and murdered” his brother.
“They think we’re animals,” he said. “They’re killing us like animals.”
Stevante Clark encouraged the activists to focus on their community while calling for justice. He also hugged Stephon Clark’s girlfriend and mother of his two children while asking the crowd to chant Stephon’s name.
According to The Sacramento Bee, protesters repeated a chant that is becoming all too familiar in the ongoing fight against police brutality: “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
View photos of Sacramento’s protests over Stephon Clark’s killing below.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.