Ever since Stephon Clarke, an African-American man, was killed by a police officer in his grandparents’ backyard, numerous protests in Sacramento, California have given rise to tensions in the city.
On March 22, protesters rallied outside the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento effectively blocking Interstate 5, which caused traffic to be diverted.
However, in order to defuse tensions, state and local authorities have now promised an independent oversight into Clark’s killing.
According to a report in Los Angeles Times, the protests were in full swing even on Tuesday as more than a 100 people marched from the Sacramento County district attorney’s office to City Hall holding signs that read, “Sac PD: Stop killing us!” and “Not a gun. It was a cell phone.”
Clark was shot 20 times on Sunday, March 20 in South Sacramento when police officials responded to a call that said a six-foot-one man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants was breaking car windows.
The incident received a lot of attention and the Sacramento Police Department and the mayor received criticism for the manner in which Clark was shot.
In response, Mayor Darrell Steinberg had assured the public on March 22 that their queries would be answered and that he trusted police chief Daniel Hahn and the department.
The two police officers involved in the shooting were also put on administrative leave as per the standard procedure.
However, the mayor’s words and the police department’s transparency were not enough for the public.
Therefore, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Police Chief Hahn on Tuesday called for the state Justice Department to play two roles — to provide independent oversight of the investigation into the shooting and to review Sacramento’s police training and policies on the use of force.
“I have complete confidence in my detectives, but due to the nature of this investigation, the extremely high emotion, anger and hurt in our city, I felt it was in the best interest of our entire community, including the members of our Police Department. Our city is at a critical point right now, and I believe this will help build faith and confidence,” Hahn said.
Becerra also said that the reports would be “based on the fact and the law, nothing more and nothing less”.
Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert also weighed in on the issue and said, “My job is to provide a full, fair, independent review of this shooting. At the end of the day, it will be based on facts and the law.… Understand, that process will take time.”
Mayor Steinberg was also present at the City Hall for Tuesday’s community meeting. He offered his condolences and assured everyone that it was his job to hear the public’s truth.
“In the days, weeks and months ahead, you will be heard. It is our job to hear your truth and calls for change.”