Militant Journalism

Sacramento erupts after Stephon Clark decision

On March 18, 2018, Stephon Clark was executed in cold blood as police shot first and asked questions later. The answers given a year later by the District Attorney have been deemed insufficient by masses of Sacramento residents who have taken to the streets to demand jail for the killer cops.

Demonstrators gather at Freeport Police Administration Center. Photo: BLM Sacramento
Demonstrators gather at Freeport Police Administration Center. Photo: BLM Sacramento

On the morning of March 2, across the street from her office, District Attorney Anne Schubert held a press conference demonizing Stephon Clark.

In immediate reaction to Schubert’s decision not to indict Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, Black Lives Matter Sacramento called for people to move from downtown to the parking lot of the John P. Kearns Administration Facility on the edge of Land Park to commemorate the life of Stephon Clark.

A few hours in, to demonstrate their opposition to the culture of police impunity promoted by the slogan “Blue Lives Matter,” people burned several Thin Blue Line flags.

Gathered for several hours, the mood was somber and the message was clear: the people demand justice.

Arden Mall shutdown

#Arden13 lead a sit-in at the Arden Mall. Photo: Berry Accius
#Arden13 lead a sit-in at the Arden Mall. Photo: Berry Accius

That same night at 8:30 p.m. members of the newly formed Coalition of Black Students staged a sit-in at the Arden Mall with demands including jail for the two killer cops as well as an end to the overpolicing of Black communities.

After spending the night under supervision of mall security, the #Arden13 prepared to continue their sit-in through Sunday, a busy day for weekend shopping. However, sometime that morning, Mayor Steinberg told the owner of the Arden Mall to close down the mall because of the possibility of further protests.

With the Mall closed, the students put out a call for community support outside. This call was quickly taken up by dozens who began to demonstrate their solidarity at the main entrance in the morning. Despite the mall being closed, hundreds of would-be shoppers remained unaware until they confronted locked doors.

Wanted poster.

“Wanted” posters were handed out to mall goers, warning them that the two killer cops are back on duty and free to kill again. Community members brought drinks, snacks and pizza to a tent that was set up for the few short rain showers that came. After six hours of protesting outside, two managers of mall security delivered attendees with notices on paper that the parking lot would be closed at 5 pm. Entrances were then blocked leaving only exits available.

Although eventually forced to leave, the mall shutdown accomplished its goal of disrupting business as usual in Sacramento. The Arden Fair Mall is responsible for 18 percent of the city’s sales tax revenue and Sunday is one of its busiest shopping days. With the entire mall shut down and hundreds of workers forced to stay at home, the city was forced to recognize the economic impact of the sit-in started by the #Arden13.

Mass arrests in the Fabulous 40’s

The cautious hands off approach of SPD was discarded the following night. The Table Sacramento called for a demonstration in the affluent East Sacramento neighborhood known as the Fab 40’s.

Once the home of former California Governor and President Ronald Reagan, the mansion-filled blocks from 40th St. to 50th St have a long history of housing Sacramento’s elite. During the redlining era of housing going back to the 1930’s, the Fab 40’s along with Land Park were among the only areas considered “green” with most of the city “yellow” or “red.”

March through the Fabulous 40s in East Sacramento. Liberation photo.
March through the Fabulous 40s in East Sacramento. Liberation photo.

The march gathered on 50th and Folsom Boulevard where there was chanting and speeches from the community.  Throughout the march, chants of “Black lives matter!” and “Its a phone, not a gun!” echoed through the streets.

After stopping in front of Mercy Medical to decry the public health crisis that is police terror, the march returned to its starting point.

It was at this time that over 100 police officers with horses and tactical gear greated the overwhelmingly peaceful march with orders to disperse because of “vandalism and criminal activity.”

As people took to the sidewalks and attempted to leave the area, they were followed by lines of police continuing their threats. The remaining crowd was then pushed onto the 51st street overpass where both sides of the bridge were blocked by riot police. One by one over 80 people were arrested and detained for over three hours sitting on the curb with zipties. Even some police officers could be overheard complaining about the length of the citation process that should have gone much faster. Several people were forced to urinate on themselves or lost feeling in their hands because of zipties. One man even ripped the muscle in his shoulder forcing him to wear a sling in the following days. The people who have become known as the #Fab84 were then transported to Cal Expo by van where they were input into the system by SPD. All were charged with a misdemeanor “PC 409, Failure to Disperse,” except for one young woman who was charged with a felony for carrying a bike lock.

Though the arrests started around 10:30 pm, the final arrestee was not released until 3 am and was greeted by community supporters with good spirits, pizza, water and snacks.

Despite the injustices that prevailed that evening, the people vowed to continue the struggle against police terror.

City Council forced to listen

Heavy police presence at City Hall. Liberation photo.
Heavy police presence at City Hall. Liberation photo.

Residents, including members of the #Fab84, mobilized to City Hall to ask how a Mayor and City Council that claims to be progressive can oversee such blatant disregard for civil liberties.

Despite the time for Public Comment being extended from 2 minutes to 3 minutes, the Council’s attitude remained passive and indifferent as people shared their outrage at both the DA’s decision and the police reaction that followed.

“Taxation without representation means the police won’t serve my Black a** the way they serve your white a**,” said Sonia Lewis of Black Lives Matter Sacramento to the City Council. “It was reminiscent of Selma, Alabama on that bridge where police took over civilians who were marching for peace and justice,” she said of the mass arrests.

Public comments lasted several hours despite interruptions by City Council. This was an important time to air fresh grievances about the night before as well as further address the case of Stephon Clark.

Students united will never be defeated

Kevin McCarty talks about AB 392 at the Capitol. Liberation photo
Kevin McCarty talks about AB 392 at the Capitol. Liberation photo

A student walkout including students from Sacramento City College, Sacramento State University, McClatchy High School and Sacramento High School among others marched over six miles from Oak Park to the West Steps of the Capitol.

The Capitol was chosen to show support for Assembly Bill 392, a police reform act. One of the bill’s coauthors was Kevin McCarty who spoke at the rally once the march arrived.

To conclude, a letter from the Sacramento State University Black Student Union was read:

“The law as it stands, does not provide equal protection to the lives of officers as to the citizens they are charged to protect.  The structure of the policy has exhibited evidence on numerous occasions that it serves to protect the lives of officers above the lives of citizens, proven through no conviction in a court of law.  This imbalance has provided space for officers to use claims of fear as a justification to open fire, when de-escalation tactics and alternative non-lethal options (which they are trained to execute) have proven in hindsight to be the choice which would have saved our lives.  Furthermore, after officers avoid facing prosecution… they are allowed to keep their jobs. We believe that intentions and mistakes that cost the lives of citizens are intentions and mistakes that must be punished by termination.”

A candlelight vigil was held on March 7 in the community where Stephon Clark was killed. From this week of ongoing action it is clear that people in Sacramento plan to continue demanding jail for Mercadal and Robinet as well as an end to the system that gave them the authority to kill with impunity.

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