6 Months after Stephon Clark’s Death, Protesters Gather Outside Law Enforcement Convention

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SACRAMENTO -- Protesters gathered outside a law enforcement convention Tuesday in downtown Sacramento, six months after Stephon Clark was killed by two Sacramento police officers.

Several dozen demonstrators from Black Lives Matter and allied groups faced off against a smaller group of counter-protesters.

"They didn't let us know that he was dead back there. They didn't let us know 'til Monday," said Clark's grandmother, Sequita Thompson.  "My grandson was killed Sunday. And then he was still alive and you couldn't even call the ambulance for him."

Along with several hundred protesters, the family of Clark says they came to the California Peace Officers' Association’s COPSWEST event at the convention center to call for justice.

"We're not OK as a result of this. No one's OK, we're not OK," said Se'Quette Clark, Clark's mother. "We can't just, like, go on, that's not gonna happen. That being said, they're going to acknowledge and do right by him."

"I just want people to be held accountable. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, you know?" said Clark's brother, Stevante.

Stevante Clark says the convention just felt like bad timing.

"It does feel like a slap in the face because I was actually planning to be at the gravesite all day," Stevante Clark said. "But now I can’t do that because we have to stand in solidarity."

But he says he understands why the protest also felt like bad timing after what happened to Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Stasyuk, who died after an armed suspect began firing at officers in Rancho Cordova.

"To hear the officer get shot yesterday, that hurts too," Stevante Clark said. "You know, we don’t promote death, we don’t want anyone to die."

Meanwhile, Stevante Clark says he plans to meet with the mayor to ask for an update on his brother’s case.

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Sacramento police officers formed a barrier between the Black Lives Matter group and others, who came out to show support for law enforcement in the wake of Stasyuk’s death.  Black Lives Matter organizers believe the other group only came after Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones asked them to.

"I think that was unprofessional and I think that he pulled a Donald Trump," said Tanya Faison, the founder of the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter. "He’s trying to incite violence.”

Police officers and clergy largely kept the two groups separate earlier in the afternoon before protesters staged a "die-in" in the middle of J Street, blocking the road for about an hour.

Officers began calling for the protesters to disperse shortly after noon and threatened to use "chemical agents or other less than lethal munitions" around 1 p.m.

But eventually, those blocking the street left, marching on through downtown Sacramento, blocking streets as they moved.

"In Sacramento, this year alone, someone is getting killed by the police every three months, and so that’s a problem," Faison said.

As Black Lives Matter staged their protest outside the convention center, many came out in support of law enforcement, saying they were there as a direct response to Jones calling for demonstrators to show up. Jones said the following to the media at a press conference announcing Deputy Stasyuk's death:

"I mean we have a planned protest tomorrow at a statewide law enforcement conference down in Sacramento. I know people have this overwhelming urge to do what they can and not knowing what to do, one of the things you can do is go down there. Go down to the convention center tomorrow, between 11 and 1, and show your support for law enforcement while they continue to protest law enforcement."

But that is something the sheriff was backtracking from on Tuesday, saying he was only asking that people come and be supportive following the death of Stasyuk.

"I mean it was a convenient coincidence for them, frankly. But as we’ve all seen, they don’t need a reason, a date or an anniversary to protest, as we see every day at the DA's office," Jones said.

Jones was dismissive of the Black Lives Matter protest.

However, what was not planned was the protest falling one day after the tragic death of Deputy Stasyuk.

"Yesterday a law enforcement officer was needlessly gunned down and another was seriously injured. My wife and I, it broke our heart," said Sean Tillman.

"He only ever did anything he could to try to help the community," said Stephen Long, a close friend of Stasyuk's.

Long said he was at the demonstration Tuesday because of Sheriff Jones' call to action.

"He was a good officer and he was trying to make the world a better place," Long told FOX40.

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