Who Is Wanda Cleveland? Sacramento Activist Struck By Sheriff’s Vehicle During Protests

During a protest march over the March 18 killing of Stephon Clark, a 61-year-old woman was struck by a Sacramento Sheriff’s vehicle on Saturday. The accident occurred as the police vehicle peeled away from protesters, reports said. Witnesses present at the scene and the victim described the incident as a hit-and-run.

According to the Washington Times, the victim was identified as Wanda Cleveland, a local activist from Sacramento, California who was hit in her right leg. She was immediately taken to the hospital where she was treated for her injuries on her arms and the back of the head. Cleveland’s injuries were not life-threatening. 

According to her bio in Everipedia, Cleveland is a resident of Sacramento and graduated from Oakmont High School, in Roseville, California in 1974. 

She also previously worked as a bus driver for the Elk Grove Unified School District, the fifth largest school district based in southern Sacramento County, California.

The video of her accident was captured by Guy Danilowitz of the National Lawyers Guild, which showed protesters marching on the busy Florin Road south of downtown Sacramento chanting slogans, including “Say his name! Stephon Clark!”. The video later showed a group of people surrounding a Sacramento County Sheriff police cruiser chanting “When people are occupied, resistance is justified”.  

A deputy can also be heard shouting four times into the loudspeaker asking the protesters to back away from his vehicle to no avail. After a few moments, the police cruiser slowly pulled forward just when a woman emerged from the crowd in between the vehicles.

The second cruiser then struck her and she hit the ground. 

A vocal activist at Sacramento City Council meetings, Cleveland spoke about the accident and said, “I want to know what he was thinking. Is my life not that important? I could hear the tires roll past me,” she said.

One of the witnesses named Andre Young said: “This was a hit-and-run. Police have to be better than this.”

61-year-old woman injured by Sacramento Sheriff’s vehicle at Stephon Clark protest In this photo, a woman wears Black Lives Matter earrings while waiting in line to enter Stephon Clark’s funeral in Sacramento, California on March 29, 2018. Photo: Getty Images / Josh Edelson

In a statement issued by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the collision occurred at “slow speeds” after protesters were “yelling while pounding and kicking the vehicles’ exterior.”

The incident is currently being investigated by the California Highway Patrol. The police department is also carrying out an internal review.

Marchers have been protesting the killing of 22-year-old Clark since the day he died almost two weeks ago. However, protests became particularly tense after the autopsy results were released on Friday, which concluded that Clark was shot eight times, mostly in the back, clearly refuting the contention by police that Clark was moving toward them when they gunned him down. 

“These findings from the independent autopsy contradict the police narrative that we’ve been told. From the time this investigation began, statements provided by the Sacramento Police Department have proven to be self-serving, untrustworthy, and unreliable. This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances,” Attorney Benjamin Crump said following the release of the autopsy report.

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