Thursday night’s game between the Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks was delayed after a mass protest demanding justice for Stephon Clark, who was fatally shot by the police last week.
An unarmed Clark was reportedly shot 20 times in the backyard of the south Sacramento home he shared with his grandparents and some of his siblings on Sunday. Authorities mistook his cell phone for a weapon after they arrived at the scene following a call about a man breaking car windows. The 22-year-old was a stay-at-home father of two young sons, aged one and three.
A massive crowd shut down the freeway and surrounding streets to the Golden 1 Center on Thursday night as protesters locked arms and held signs outside the arena resulting in fans being unable to enter.
Only about hundred fans were able to make it inside according to the Associated Press before Sacramento Police decided not to let anyone else enter. The only fans in attendance were then moved from the upper deck to the lower bowl of the arena and were given free food according to a fan on Twitter.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances around Golden 1 Center, no one else will be admitted to the #SacKings game,” Sacramento Police announced on their official Twitter account.
The Sacramento Kings soon released a statement that with law enforcement unable to assure the safety of fans entering the arena, no one else was allowed to enter and that information regarding a refund will be announced soon.
“Tonight’s game began with a delay,” the Kings wrote in a statement. “Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We’ll issue further information soon regarding a refund.”
According to Lina Washington of ABC10, the protests outside the arena began after a rally at City Hall that led to a march, which ultimately shut down Interstate 5. It was later revealed that Clark’s brother and cousin are leading some of the protests.
The protests come a day after the Sacramento Police Department released three videos and two audio recordings of the incident from body cameras and a helicopter that caught the events that led to the chase and eventual shooting of Clark.
According to Scott Marsh of Sports 1140 KHTK, there was no regular announcement of the starting lineups or the national anthem as the game went straight to a tip-off, adding that it was the smallest crowd he had seen for an NBA game.
The halftime show that followed also resulted in kids being picked out of the crowd to attempt half-court shots according to a fan in attendance.
Despite the events that took place, the Kings were able to emerge victorious against the Hawks in a dominant 105-90 win, with Justin Jackson scoring 20 points while Buddy Hield and Frank Mason both scored 16 points each.
A statement was later released as per NBA.com that guests who purchased tickets through the Kings’ website or Ticketmaster will be given instructions on how to receive a full refund.