Police Arrest 84 After Stephon Clark Protest In East Sacramento

Sacramento police arrested 84 people after demonstrators marched through the city's affluent East Sacramento neighborhood Monday, protesting the district attorney's decision not to bring criminal charges against the officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark last March.

Those arrested include Pastor Les Simmons of Sacramento Area Congregations Together, a prominent figure in actions around the Clark cause over the past year, two journalists, and students who were part of a group that shut down the Arden Fair Mall on Sunday.

The actions by police were a stark contrast to when demonstrations erupted after Clark's death last year when only a handful of arrests were made despite protestors shutting down Interstate 5 and blocking fans from entering a Sacramento Kings basketball game.

While those previous demonstrations targeted downtown Sacramento, this was the first to take place in a wealthier, predominantly white part of the city.

"We Saw Him Die Twice."

“We saw Stephon Clark die twice. March 18, 2018, and we saw him die March 2, 2019, today, in how he was referred to, and then no accountability of these officers... This is no justice for the Clark family and no justice for the side of what we call Beloved Community, right? Dr. King lifted up the idea of Beloved Community, which stands on justice, which stands on love, which stands on belonging, and this is not that. I think we have an opportunity in Sacramento to lead not only the state but the nation in redefining what justice looks like for these incidents.” Pastor Les Simmons

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"We don't believe the DA's findings represents what justice is for this community, for this city, for this state, and for this nation," said Pastor Lee Simmons.

The news conference was co-organized by Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT).

"Police officers who police the black community should be trained in de-escalation and mental health tactics, and if they don't have this type of training, then maybe those police officers shouldn't be policing our communities," said Allegra Taylor with Sacramento ACT.

Also represented was the Muslim faith through civil rights attorney Saad Sweilem, with the Sacramento Valley chapter of CAIR (Council on American–Islamic Relations).

"It's taken only two days after Black History Month for us to be reminded that the journey of our black brothers and sisters to obtain justice and equality before the law is still as much a struggle today as it has ever been before," Sweilem said. "For as long as we have laws that enforce racist policing, inform biased trainings and excuse the senseless murders of unarmed black men like Stephon Clark, there is no justice and no equality."

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Allegra Taylor, with Sacramento ACT, began her response with an African proverb: “The child that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”

She called for the city to implement a higher standard for use of deadly force that mirrors AB 392.

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Police accountability is now the subject of one of SacAct’s organizing campaigns. Their initiative is called HEAT, which stands for Hiring Equipment Accountability and Training. Flores said they have met with Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn in recent months and plan to offer a number of recommendations to improve the relationship between police and community members in some areas.

Faith Leaders Ready to Provide Support Ahead of DA’s Decision on Clark Case

Any day now, the city is expecting the district attorney to announce whether or not the two officers who shot him will face criminal charges.

In the meantime, Sacramento faith leaders have been preparing to deal with the fallout of that decision.

"I think there could be some situations when the DA comes out with the findings for the killing of Stephon Clark that I think clergy will be called on to help heal, to help stand, to help community through really a moment," said Pastor Les Simmons with Sacramento Area Congregations Together.

It’s that moment Sacramento Area Congregations Together, or ACT, wants to be ready for.

"These are faith leaders that have been in position already waiting for almost a year now," said Pastor Joy Johnson, president of ACT. "And so, we’re coming together and gleaning some support from each one of the houses of faith that would be represented."

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"If the DA doesn't convict, how does the city step in place to say that's not the style of policing that this community is asking for?" said Pastor Les Simmons with Sacramento Area Congregations. "That's the standard that we have to set as a community."