What was described as an “open community dialogue” about the fatal police shooting of 22-year-old Stephon Clark quickly turned emotional Tuesday night in Sacramento.
Just minutes into a special City Council meeting to discuss Clark’s death on March 18, his brother Stevante rushed to the front of the chambers chanting Stephon’s name. He then jumped on the dais and continued shouting his brother's name while some in the crowd joined in.
Stevante Clark was given the microphone by Mayor Darrell Steinberg but was quickly shut down after he began using obscenities and yelling at the mayor.
“Enough! Enough," Steinberg yelled, while banging his gavel. But Clark persisted.
“The mayor wants to talk to me," Clark told the crowd. "The chief of police got my brother killed! He doesn’t care, he shows no emotion at all!"
Clark was eventually escorted from the chambers by what appeared to be other activists. But others continued to plead with city officials to make some meaningful and lasting changes in police policies.
“As a parent of two young black men, I’ve struggled over the past eight days trying to help them deal with what they saw on that video," said speaker Chet Hewitt, referencing the police body-camera footage and helicopter video of the shooting. "Trying to help them believe that I live in a community that holds their life sacred.”
For more than three hours, community members addressed the City Council, with many African-Americans saying they distrusted the police while pleading for change.
While comments continued inside the chamber, protesters filled the lobby of City Hall chanting Stephon Clark’s name and demanding to be let into the chambers.
Several hours into the meeting, protesters began banging on the windows of City Hall and Mayor Steinberg recessed the meeting until Wednesday afternoon.
Dozens of demonstrators also marched to the city’s Golden 1 Center and, for the second time this week, blocked entrances so fans couldn’t get inside where the Sacramento Kings were playing the Dallas Mavericks.
The emotional testimony and protest came nine days after two Sacramento police officers fired 20 shots at Clark, killing him in the backyard of his grandparents' home on a Sunday night. Officers said they believed Clark was armed, although he had only a cellphone on him.
Earlier in the day the California Attorney General's Office announced it would oversee an independent investigation into Clark's death, at the request of the Sacramento Police Department. The attorney general will also review the department's policies.
Clark's funeral is planned for Thursday morning in Sacramento.