SACRAMENTO — Hundreds of protesters gathered at City Hall for a special Sacramento City Council meeting Tuesday as people took to the podium to speak with city leaders about the shooting death of Stephon Clark.
The community’s reaction to Sacramento leaders was passionate and their message unwavering. They want the Sacramento Police officers who shot and killed 22-year-old Clark on March 18 to be held accountable.
Sacramento City Hall was crowded with demonstrators, civil rights leaders and Black Lives Matter Sacramento members trying to gain access to the public discussion starting at 5 p.m.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg, joined by city council members and Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, held a moment of silence in honor of Clark and offered words of encouragement.
The meeting was delayed as Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, sat in front of Steinberg, yelling into his face.
Tuesday’s meeting was taken over by people of all ages and backgrounds, who brought stories of their own struggles, offered solutions and wanted their voices to be heard.
Hundreds of protesters surged inside the City Hall atrium. Some climbed on top of the information desk to lead the crowd, many of whom waited hours to speak their peace.
Before the nearly 700 people expected to speak could have their turn at the podium, the meeting was shut down three hours after it started as the protest outside became chaotic. At least one person was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
City officials say out of an abundance of caution and concern, the mayor chose to end it. The meeting will be postponed because of a wake that will be held for Clark on Wednesday from 1 to 8 p.m., according to Steinberg.
“We value your voice. We value what you have to say and we will make sure the opportunity for your voice to be heard is available for you,” said City Councilman Rick Jennings in a video statement released Tuesday night.
Protests at the Golden 1 Center
It was the second time since Clark’s death that protesters have effectively blocked the entrance to the Golden 1 Center before a Sacramento Kings game, choosing the location to reach a large audience.
“It’s no disrespect to nobody over here,” said Andre Young, Clark’s cousin. “We gotta let them know what’s going on in Sacramento. The whole world gotta know what’s going on in Sacramento.”
There were frustrations among ticketed fans. After a while, Young suggested letting fans in. “So these people can watch this game. We’ve said enough, so now it’s time for us to go, OK?” he said.
But the Kings organization locked the doors and put up a sign saying public safety measures were enacted. Many ticketholders never made it in.
“It’s a little inconvenient but I respect their message and understand both sides of it,” said ticketholder Joe Burk. “I’m pro-police, but I’m also pro-rights for everyone.”
“I know it’s a good cause. I just feel like it wasn’t the right place, that’s just my opinion. I’m not against them protesting,” said ticketholder Damion Ware.
An estimated 4,000 fans made it into the arena before the doors were locked. Everyone was allowed to sit in the lower arena, close to the court.
Refunds will be offered to those who could not get inside, according to the Kings.
“We continue to work with law enforcement and City leadership to ensure the safety and security of fans and the public on Thursday and at future events,” the Kings said in a statement.
Warning: The video below was filmed during a live City Hall meeting and contains explicit language.