After protests, Kings hope to be ‘champion for change’ by investing in black youth

Pastor Les Simmons' South Sacramento Christian Church hosted Friday night's forum. He said the partnership between the Kings and community is "still being forged," but Friday was a step in the right direction.

Simmons said the forum was more than a "moment" but a commitment to seeing "equitable change."

"(The Kings) wanted to help sponsor tonight and bring the community together for some healing for dialogue to really lift up the youth voice," Simmons said. "But then there is a multiyear commitment that is developing to invest equity in our communities and continue to lift up the youth voice, as well as make that investment in accountability, particularly policing in our communities. What does that look like? What reform needs to happen that we all can collectively lead this movement and lift up together?"

Ryan McClinton, a community organizer with Sacramento Area Congregations Together, said the partnership with the Kings shows youth that the team "values their lives" beyond just their status as paying customers.

McClinton working with Kings helps facilitate building equity in the black community, with the hope of setting an example for how other sports franchises can invest in their local communities.

"It shouldn’t only happen in Sacramento," McClinton said. "It has to start in Sacramento because we have a chance to lead the nation in this massive change, this champion for change, if you will. But how does it carry over into other states across the country as well?"

Local Activists Lead ‘Organic’ Protests Demanding Change

SACRAMENTO – The Stephon Clark protest on March 22 was scheduled to be a demonstration at Sacramento City Hall with brief marches in and out of Cesar Chavez Park, which is right across the street.

After three hours of marching, speeches and waving signage of their displeasure of the 22-year-old man being shot at 20 times in the back yard of his grandparents’ house in South Sacramento, the protesters — hundreds of them — were about to call it a day.

Before ceasing the operation, it clicked in some of the organizers’ minds that they had to visit one more location in downtown Sacramento. It was a brilliant move, too.

“The energy was up and we were about to come back to City Hall and end everything,” said Berry Accius, founder of Voice of the Youth and one of the main organizers alongside Black Lives Matter Sacramento. “But then folks were like, ‘You know what, let’s go to Golden 1 (Center). Let’s make an uncomfortable situation for those folks who believe that this situation has nothing to do with them.”

Accius refers to the moment as being an “organic” strategy. So much so, that the demonstration did wake up Sacramento and the rest of the country. Golden 1 Center was completely shut down. Security would not let anyone enter or exit the building.

For a short time, actually right up until tip-off of the game, the Kings and the Atlanta Hawks were not sure they would play the game. But they did, before 2,400 fans that did get inside of G1C before the protesters pushed their way onto the Downtown Commons plaza known as David J. Stern Way.

As Kings fans waited outside of the front entrance, protesters locked arms to form a human chain around G1C. Every entrance to the facility was under siege because of one quick idea that made a big difference.

“I feel like it was beautiful. I feel like we did the right thing,” said Black Lives Matter Sacramento founder Tanya Faison. “Every step that we took, we did the right thing and everything was led by the people. Anything that we go into I get the energy and we go with that.”

The energy was so great that before getting to the arena, Black Lives Matter Sacramento and a horde of unified social groups took their march to the freeway, specifically Interstate 5. At peak hours, the
freeway traffic was halted. Ms. Faison has led many protest marches in the last few years — this one was monumental.

But she said the circumstances needed something special.

“It’s been happening over and over again,” Ms. Faison told The OBSERVER of the police-involved shootings of Black men in Sacramento. “It has to change. There is going to be some changes. We are at this point now to where we are tired of anything that you bring to us that is not what we need. We’re not accepting it. Period and point blank,” she added.

People such as Accius, Faison, Jamier Sale, Keon Johnson, Sacramento Area Congregations Together, and many more have been protesting and bringing awareness to these shootings for years. They meet privately and publicly in concerted effort to force police departments to change their policies.

A few battles have been won while a lot more have been lost. Ms. Faison told the Sacramento City Council on March 20, two days after
Clark was killed in a hail of gunfire, that she was “tired” because she had faced them before, again and again. But she and Accius are in the game for the long haul.

“Throughout this time I have been in social activism, I’ve always said about these real core issues, especially with Colin Kaepernick and far back when Donald Sterling said those things about the L.A. Clippers, the way you make people feel you is when you shut down that entertainment,” Accius said. “So what we showed is that this is what it looks like if the players decided not to play. It was always the strategy that I had in my mind.”

Ms. Faison and Accius want it know that they were not behind the second shutdown of Golden 1 Center when the Kings played the Dallas Mavericks on March 27. That incident was put on at the last minute by protesters who left Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

They also said that they would not organize any more demonstrations at G1C. But there are no guarantees that it would be the end of the protests there.
OBSERVER Staff Writer

Stephon Clark killing becomes test in Sacramento DA election

"The culture shift that people in the community want to see comes down to voting," said Gabby Trejo, executive director of Sacramento ACT, a faith-based community-organizing group that tries to improve the relationship between the public and law enforcement. But, she said, "many people don't even know they get to elect their local DA."

Religious Leaders Call for ‘End to Terror’ in Wake of Stephon Clark’s Death

SACRAMENTO -- The chanting and marching continued in one part of Sacramento as an interfaith town hall took place in another all in the name of Stephon Clark.

"Black people have historically been policed by a different standard of policing than other people in this country," said Nailah El-Amin of Sacramento Area Congregations Together.

The police shooting death of the young Sacramento father sparked the emergency meeting at Salam Islamic Center, where religious leaders called to end violence against the black community.

During the meeting, the group made an emotional plea to remember Clark as the victim rather than vilify him.

"If you can cast enough suspicion around his character, and make him evil enough and make him not worth the struggle then maybe people will just say, 'Well he had it coming,'" said Sheikh Omar Suleiman.

Clark's family was in the audience as were his two little boys. One was running and playing outside, not knowing yet the magnitude of his father's death and the change many hope will come from it.

The keynote speaker was an imam who has been nationally recognized for his work in social justice.

"I'm hopeful that if we begin to see each other as human beings then maybe we will recognize how flawed our country is domestically and with our foreign policy," Suleiman said. "I'm hopeful that we will start to question how our government has been operating here and abroad."

That hope Suleiman has is the same hope many across the city have in their effort to make a difference in the name of Clark.

"I'm hopeful that if we're angry enough and organized enough then maybe we can begin to put an end to this terror," Suleiman said.

Hundreds search for solutions after Stephon Clark's police shooting death


Hundreds gathered at Sacramento’s SALAM Islamic Center Wednesday to discuss the shooting death of Stephon Clark and to look for solutions to prevent similar deaths from happening again.

The meeting was organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley Chapter, the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations, Sacramento NAACP, Sacramento Area Congregations Together and a coalition of more than 10 mosques from across the greater Sacramento region.

Clark was shot and killed March 18 in his grandparents' backyard in south Sacramento. Officers were responding to a call about a person breaking car windows at night, when a Sacramento County sheriff’s helicopter led officers to Clark, who began to run away. The two responding officers believed he was armed and fired 20 rounds at Clark, police said. Investigators later discovered Clark was holding a cellphone.

Sacramento police released videos of the shooting three dayslater.

Clark was an African-American Muslim who joined the religion several years ago after he was introduced to it by his girlfriend.

In addition to many local faith leaders, Sheikh Omar Sulieman, a well-known religious leader among Muslim Americans, came from Texas to talk about systemic injustice.

Here's what people had to say at the town hall meeting:

Iman Omar Suleiman:

This is not a case of a few bad cops. This is a culture and a system that disproportionately targets people of color.

We don’t want to see another Stephon Clark before we see more protests.

We want to actually channel that outrage and effectively mobilize so that we can make sure that people are held accountable when these types of instances take place and hopefully prevent them from taking place in the first place.

CAIR Sacramento Executive Director Basim Elkarra:

We put a Band-Aid here and a Band-Aid there.

But, it’s time for the communities to come together to address these issues together to find solutions.

Sacramento Act Board Member Nailah El-Amin:

The tragedy of Stephon Clark is not an isolated incident. It is actually reflective of a discriminatory policing practice that takes place every day across this country.

We’re here because black people have historically been policed by a different standard of policing that other people of this country.

South Oak Park Imam Haazim Rashed:

In the dark, I look just like Stephon Clark, and that could have been me or anybody in my congregation.

We have a real personal interest in ensuring that procedures are developed that will protect our rights as well as other people’s rights.

Sacramento resident Tristan Brown:

We definitely want to make sure that we rid ourselves of any of the implicit biases that we have in areas of the city.

If the police can deescalate a situation rather than run into one, cause that’s for the safety of both the officers and any civilians that are out there.

Sacramento resident Ngabo Nzigira

This is a unique opportunity for our city to do something right that so far everyone has been doing wrong.

And, we want to be part of that process.

City Council Holds Dialogue About Police-Involved Shooting

SACRAMENTO – Emotions are running high as Sacramento’s African American community calls for justice in the police-involved shooting death of a local unarmed Black man, Stephon Clark.

A “Community Dialogue” with the Sacramento City Council was interrupted Tuesday night more than once by protesters causing Mayor Darrell Steinberg to adjourn the meeting about 8:30 p.m. — earlier than expected. Mayor Steinberg had announced prior to the meeting that City officials were prepared to listen to comments from the community until 11 p.m. Tuesday night and also Wednesday at 1 p.m. and again at 5 p.m., if necessary.

During one exchange, Clark’s brother, Ste’vonte Clark, stormed into Council Chambers, chanting his brother’s name and even jumping on the dais behind which Mayor Steinberg and City Council members were sitting. Ste’vonte Clark shouted down the mayor and Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, but also called attention to other issues facing the Black community, such as housing inequality and the lack of places for youth to go when they need help.

Clark, and a group of other Black men who entered City Hall with him, were eventually escorted out of Council Chambers and proceeded outside, where a large crowd chanted his brother’s name and called for justice in his death. Community speakers who remained on the inside spoke of racial profiling, the lack of faith in local law enforcement and asserted that “no property is worth the loss of life.”

Some also said that whether or not they agreed with how Ste’vonte Clark expressed himself, they understood his pain. Meadowview community activist Jackie Rose asked that the Council understand that he’s grieving.

“We have a different way of grieving, but it’s real,” said Pastor Joy Johnson, president of Sacramento Area Congregations Together.

Protesters have taken over Sacramento streets the last two weeks since Clark’s March 18 death, including shutting down a major highway on March 22 and later causing the lockdown of the Golden 1 Center before the Kings took on the Atlanta Hawks.

Protesters left the community dialogue session Tuesday that drew local leaders and members of the public, and again moved to the Golden 1 Center. The Kings organization once again shut down doors to ensure the safety of those inside for the game against the Dallas Mavericks.

*The Sacramento OBSERVER continues to cover this story as it unfolds. More will be in this week’s issue of the paper, and those to follow.

City officials have decided to postpone today’s planned meeting with community residents following Tuesday night’s abrupt ending.

A statement from City Hall read as follows: “Out of respect for the family we will not reconvene (Wednesday) but are committed to ensuring the community is heard and we will share information for future meetings as it becomes available.”

Pastor Les Simmons On Community Reaction To Stephon Clark Shooting

South Sacramento is still reeling from the shooting of Stephon Clark by two Sacramento police officers last week. Three days of protests begin Tuesday evening, with a listening session planned at City Council.

Pastor Les Simmons with Sacramento Area Congregations Together shares his observations of how the community has reacted so far.

Sacramento Police Said They Were Making Changes. Then They Killed Stephon Clark.

Sacramento Police Said They Were Making Changes. Then They Killed Stephon Clark.

This didn’t have to happen.

The first reports from California described a black man with a “tool bar” who had been breaking into cars. Footage of the incident doesn’t show this but picks up with officers chasing Stephon backyard where they shouted “gun.” Except it was a cell phone – there was no gun. Opening fire, they killed Stephon, a 22-year-old father of two.

Stephon’s family heard the shots, but they did not know it was the sound of their beloved grandson being killed. His grandmother has nightmares of his bloodied body, the last image she has of him. How will she heal from that? How will Stephon’s children and nieces and nephews and family heal? How will they make new memories that are not marred by blood?

Once again, we have arrived at a moment where our community stands with a grieving family in the gap left behind by the loss of a loved one. We call for accountability, transparency and justice to be carried out for this family and for this life that was taken from us all.

Once again, our community is angry and weary and traumatized. Communities like ours all over this country are angry and weary and traumatized.