SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Hundreds of demonstrators on Tuesday night called for police accountability, remembering Stephon Clark on the one-year anniversary of his death.
The peaceful march followed a weekend of events bringing community activists together in the neighborhood where police fatally shot the unarmed 22-year-old after responding to a report of vandalism.
Organizations including Black Lives Matter put on the march in Meadowview, where a diverse crowd of about 400 people gathered. As they chanted Clark’s name, some carried signs in remembrance of Oscar Grant and other victims of police shootings.
Neighborhood residents opened the doors of their homes, joining the group of black, Latino, white and Asian demonstrators. Seven police officers kept their distance and gave the crowd space, providing traffic breaks but not intervening otherwise.
An officer cleared a four-lane road for the marchers as they chanted, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom,” and “Sac PD, we don’t want you, we don’t need you.”
Several members of the Clark family spoke, including his mother, SeQuette Clark, who thanked the crowd for its support.
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“I’m a mother and my son was brutally murdered in my mother’s backyard, where my mother and my daughter had to watch him die,” she told the demonstrators. “They ran into the backyard and watched him die, with his feet kicking. It’s just not right.”
Sacramento resident Brianna Taylor said the community will continue demanding justice for Stephon Clark. State and county officials announced earlier this month they will not charge the two officers who shot Clark, saying they mistook the cellphone in Clark’s hand for a gun.
“I live a couple of blocks away from Stephon Clark’s house,” said Taylor, a student at Sacramento State. “Not only did that really hit home, but the overpolicing of this neighborhood really needs to stop. They need to try to make a connection instead of seeing everybody as a threat.”
Marcus Cummings, 33, said he drove about 80 miles from Berkeley because he wanted to show his support.
“It’s going to take everybody to bridge the gap, to get some justice done,” Cummings said.
At Meadowview Park, about a mile from where the march began, protesters formed a circle around speakers. The relatives of two San Francisco Bay Area men who were shot dead by police, Pedie Perez of Richmond and Augie Gonsalez of Hayward, told their stories of what they say were unjustified killings.
Sacramento State graduate student Elizabeth Delgado, who hails from Santa Clarita near Los Angeles, said she joined the vigil for to advocate for police accountability and people of color.
“Black people are dying at the hands of police and Latinos also face the same issue, so I needed to be out here,” Delgado said.
Kristin Lam reported from Los Angeles