SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Residents poured into the Sacramento City Council meeting, chanting “Stephon Clark” — the name of the unarmed black man who was shot and killed by police earlier this month.
In a meeting Tuesday to discuss the shooting, protesters stood on top of the information desk to lead the crowd in calls for justice.
Residents at the meeting expressed outrage at the police for killing Clark, 22, who died March 18 in his grandmother’s yard. His death has triggered protests in the city.
The meeting adjourned 2.5 hours early after the city’s mayor said he couldn’t guarantee the safety of the attendees.
At one point, Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark interrupted the meeting by marching to the front of the chamber, jumping on top of the dais in front of Mayor Darrell Steinberg and chanting his brother’s name.
He urged the crowd to get louder.
Standing in front of the council chambers, Clark said: “The mayor and the city of Sacramento has failed all of you,” citing high rent, gang violence and poverty in the city.
“Now the mayor wants to talk to me. The chief of police got my brother killed. He doesn’t care. He shows no emotion at all. And y’all get mad at me for not crying on the news.”
The outburst forced council members to take a brief recess.
Nearby, protesters blocked the entrance to the NBA arena where the Sacramento Kings play, for the second time in a week.
‘Does this look like a gun?’
At the meeting, community members stepped up to the microphone to voice their outrage over Clark’s death as well police shootings of African Americans.
Several urged not only for the firing of the two officers involved in Clark’s shooting, but for their prosecution.
The officers had pursued Clark over a call about a man breaking car windows, and shot him in his grandmother’s yard after a brief encounter lasting less than a minute.
Two officers — one of them black — have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a use-of-force investigation. The officers had said they believed Clark had a gun.
No weapon was found at the scene. The only item discovered was a cell phone, police said.
At one point in the meeting, a male speaker urged attendees to stand and direct their cell phones toward the city council.
“Does this look like a gun?” he asked.
Sacramento pastor Efrem Smith spoke of the tragedy regarding where Clark was killed.
“I grew up in a city and in a neighborhood where grandma’s backyard was a sacred place,” he said. “I could play in grandma’s yard. I could learn in grandma’s yard. Sometimes I got a switch in my grandma’s backyard. But I never ever thought I would die in my grandma’s backyard.”
The anger was raw and palpable as some spoke about previous police shootings of African Americans and their frustration over a legal system that failed to prosecute or convict the officers.
One man spoke about Tuesday’s announcement that two Baton Rouge police officers wouldn’t be charged after the 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling was determined to be justified.
“We go into our investigations and it is determined that everything was done by the book,” the male speaker in Sacramento said. “If this is what your book looks like, then it’s time to do away with the book. I’m calling for a complete overhaul.”
The meeting adjourned earlier than scheduled as Mayor Steinberg ended the event saying, “It’s my job to guarantee the safety of everyone in the plaza and I’m not confident we can do that. We’re going to adjourn till further notice.”
Sacramento Police Department spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said he wasn’t aware of the decisions behind why the meeting ended early. But noted that one man was arrested outside City Hall for assault on an officer and being drunk in public.
Steinberg tweeted late Tuesday night that “You will have your voices heard,” but said the meeting wouldn’t reconvene Wednesday out of respect for Clark’s family as that’s when his wake will be held.
Earlier in the day, Sacramento police chief Daniel Hahn had announced that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will hold an independent investigation into the incident.