‘A Phone Is Not A Gun’: Fatal Police Shooting of Stephon Clark Sparks Protest By Black Lives Matter

After police video revealed footage of two Sacramento police officers gunning down an unarmed black man, the city erupted in multiple protests organized by the local Black Lives Matter chapter. On Sunday night, Stephon Clark was fired upon some 20 times by police who claimed that the 22-year-old pointed a gun at them after they chased him into his grandmother’s backyard. Members of the community, including Mayor Darrell Steinberg, were disheartened by the tragic incident.

CNN reported that on Thursday, protesters marched down to Sacramento’s City Hall demanding to see the city’s first black police chief, Daniel Hahn. They proceeded to block Interstate 5 and later took the demonstration to the Golden 1 Center. The Sacramento Kings were facing off against the Atlanta Hawks and the gathering forced many fans to be turned away by police.

At the game’s conclusion, Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé was joined at half court by the front office staff, executives, coaches, and players as he addressed the crowd. Ranadivé called the shooting a “horrific tragedy” and expressed condolences to the family. He acknowledged the right to peaceful protest and vowed to use the organization’s platform to unite the community. The Kings organization wants to work hard “to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Black Lives Protest in front of Golden 1 Center

“We at the Kings recognize people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that,” Ranadivé said. “We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously. And we stand here before you — old, young, black, white, brown — and we are all united in our commitment.”

Chief Hahn told CNN that the shooting has sparked feelings of anger and bewilderment as the community struggles to make sense of what happened. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation into their lethal use of force is underway. No gun was found at the scene.

According to his grandmother, who was at home during the onslaught, the father of two only had an iPhone in his hand. Members of the family are outraged at the excessive use of force. Clark’s brother Stevante is reportedly “livid” with the Sacramento Police Department. He described his brother as stylish like wrestler Ric Flair and an entrepreneur.

Mayor Steinberg has urged the greater community to stay calm although he shares the community’s feelings of anguish. Steinberg noted that it is critically important to give the black community a voice to air their pain in the face of this tragic incident.

“Emotions are understandably high. People are anguished,” Steinberg said. “I understand it and we understand it. I urge our community to remain peaceful.”