On March 18, just six days before the worldwide #MarchForOurLives, 22-year-old Stephon Clark was shot 20 times while holding a cell phone.
Authorities claim that it appeared as though Clark was holding a gun. He leaves behind two children.
On the evening of March 18, authorities in Sacramento, California were hunting down a car-robbery suspect and were directed via helicopter patrol to the backyard of Sequita Thompson, Clark’s grandmother.
There, they encountered Clark, and shouted, “Put your hands up – gun!” before releasing a hailstorm of bullets.
Then, they muted the microphones on their body-cams.
“Why didn’t you just shoot him in the arm, shoot him in the leg, send the dogs, send a Taser. Why? Why? Y’all didn’t have to do that,” – Sequita Thompson
In response to the violent murder, protesters shut down Interstate 5 and forced the postponement of a Sacramento King’s game on Thursday, March 22 — and did so again this past Tuesday, forcing the Golden 1 Center to shut their doors and ask “all guests to travel home safely.”
Protesters led by Stevonte Clark, Stephon’s brother, have also interrupted at least one Sacramento City Council meeting.
The surviving Clark brother burst into the City Council chambers approximately 30 minutes into the meeting, walked directly up to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, sat on the dais before him, and began chanting his brother’s name.
“The mayor and the city of Sacramento has failed all of you.” – Stevonte Clark
Clark’s demonstration forced the council into recess, and ultimately ended the meeting early.
In an effort to assuage protesters and ease the growing tension in the city, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has announced that the California Department of Justice will be taking over the investigation of the fatal shooting.
But how much is it worth to have the state investigate a case of state violence?
There has been an aspect of the gun control argument that, because of its controversy, has not been given the attention it deserves.
“Police brutality is gun violence. Gun control must hold the state accountable.” – The Unapologetically Brown Series
On July 20, 2012, mass-murderer James Holmes — dressed in full body armor and carrying a loaded rifle equipped with a hunting scope — was apprehended alive after killing 12 people in a movie theater, including a 6-year-old girl.
On June 18, 2015, mass-murderer and domestic terrorist Dylann Roof was apprehended alive after killing multiple people during a prayer service in a church. The police then brought him food from Burger King.
On February 14, 2018, mass-murderer Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people, and walked to a Walmart and a McDonald’s before being apprehended…alive.
Even if Stephon Clark had been breaking into cars, even if he had been the suspect the police were looking for, even if he was guilty, he hadn’t fired any shots from a gun of any kind, he hadn’t wounded anyone, and he certainly hadn’t killed anyone.
And yet, he was shot to death on sight, was denied potentially life-saving medical attention until he bled out, and was handcuffed — as though his lifeless body posed a threat.
In 2015, 30% of black victims of police killings were unarmed compared to 21% of white victims.
Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people.
Ninety-nine percent of cases of police killings in 2015 have not resulted in any convictions for any of the officers involved.
There were only 14 days in the entire year of 2017 in which police did not fatally shoot a U.S. resident/citizen.
Police killed 1,146 people in 2017; Black people comprised 25% of the fatalities despite being only 13% of the population.
So far, in the three months of 2018, police have already killed 264 people.
That means they only need to kill 101 more people to have one death for each day of the year.
And it’s only the end of March.
This is why protesters shut down the freeway; this is why protesters blocked a basketball game; this is why #BlackLivesMatter.
Until we demilitarize our police force, enact programs to combat institutional racism, and enforce policies of restorative justice and rehabilitation, these killings will not end, and 2018 will be a new record-setting year for police fatalities.