Although demonstrations in Sacramento linked to the police shooting that killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark, a unarmed black man, have been taking place almost daily, officials have been working to tone down the tension.
During marches in California’s capital city, some protesters chanted Clark’s name while others shouted, “F--- Sac PD!” and “The whole damn system is guilty as hell.” Traffic was jammed, according to The Mercury News, during a call-and-response chant — ”Say his name!” “Stephon Clark!”
Officials said the protests, however, have yielded just two arrests and no property damage.
Sgt. Vance Chandler of the Sacramento Police Department told Fox News on Monday: “There have been two arrests. One arrest for vandalism and another one for assault on an officer.”
The biggest incident during the protests: a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department vehicle hit a woman who was protesting after another vigil Saturday night. In a statement early Sunday, the department said: “The collision occurred while the patrol vehicle was traveling at slow speeds,” adding that the woman suffered minor injuries.
The statement also said the sheriff’s vehicle, which was surrounded by protesters yelling and pounding on the car, “sustained scratches, dents, and a shattered rear window.”
Activists and faith leaders have called for justice, but have noted the leadership of the city’s police and governance in the aftermath of the deadly shooting.
“I think that the mayor along with the police chief [of Sacramento] did something in California that other chiefs and mayors need to do,” the Rev. Shane Harris, who leads the San Diego chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network told The Mercury News.
The minister, who has been instrumental in organizing events honoring Clark, added: “You have families across California that didn’t get the kind of transparent investigation that this family is going to get.”
“If we are going to truly get better, not just talk for a couple of weeks and let things slide, we have to get better together,” Police Chief Daniel Hahn — who last August became the city’s first African-American police chief — said, according to The Mercury News, at a rally outside of the Kings’ game Saturday. “That means police, community organizations and community members.”
The department’s spokesman, Chandler, told Fox News on Monday: “We are committed to serving our entire community, and working together to move forward.”
The chairman of a police oversight commission urged demonstrators over the weekend to continue their activism by showing up to meetings and pushing for systemic change.
Sacramento native and former NBA player Matt Barnes, who pledged to create a scholarship fund for the children of black men killed by police, amplified calls for charges against the two officers who are on administrative leave. One of the officers is white and one is black, according to reports.
“It’s more than color — it comes down to right and wrong,” he said at a Saturday protest. “You’re trying to tell me I can kill someone and get a paid vacation?”
Clark was killed March 18 as the two police officers were responding to a call of someone breaking into car windows. They yelled that he had a gun before shooting, but it was only a cellphone. The police department said it had not received an official autopsy report from the county coroner’s office.
The Friday release, however, of the private autopsy commissioned by Clark’s family prompted new outrage. Pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, known for his study of a degenerative brain condition in football players, announced that Clark was hit by eight bullets — six in the back, one in the neck and one in the thigh — and took three to 10 minutes to die. Police waited about five minutes before rendering medical aid.
Omalu said the proposition that Clark was assailing the officers, meaning he was facing them, is “inconsistent with the prevailing forensic evidence.” He said it was unclear if Clark would have survived had he received immediate medical attention.
A day after the shooting, police distributed a news release that said the officers who shot Clark “saw the suspect facing them, advance forward with his arms extended, and holding an object in his hands.”
Police video of the shooting didn’t clearly capture all that happened after Clark ran into his grandmother’s backyard. Clark initially moved toward the officers, who were peeking out from behind a corner of the house, but it was unclear whether he was facing them or if he knew they were there when they opened fire after shouting “gun, gun, gun.”
After 20 shots, officers called to him, apparently believing he might still be alive and armed. They eventually approached and found no gun, just a cellphone.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.