GALLERY: Protesters clash outside statewide law enforcement expo

Black Lives Matter protest falls on 6 month anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death


Robby Sanchez - The State Hornet

Stevante Clark holds up his fist at a protest in downtown Sacramento on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Clark attended the protest against law enforcement on the six month anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death, his younger brother.

The State Hornet Staff

Protesters were called to disperse after the Sacramento Police Department called their “die in” outside of a statewide law enforcement expo unlawful on Tuesday, the six-month anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death.

The Cop Expo Shut Down was organized by the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter to disrupt the “norm of a policing culture which lacks accountability and transparency,” according to the event’s Facebook page. The protest came as a response to a statewide law enforcement expo that was being held in the Sacramento Convention Center.

The event, called California Peace Officers’ Association’s COPSWEST Training & Expo. The group says that through their events, California law enforcement officials “provide relevant and up-to-date training to the law enforcement, legal and public safety professions throughout the state of California, most of which are POST certified,” on their website.

A group of speakers — including Alicia Garza, the Co-Founder of the Black Lives Matter movement who later gave a scheduled speech at Sacramento State Tuesday night — were scheduled to start speaking outside the convention center at 11 a.m.

The scheduled speakers did not end up giving their presentations, though some were in attendance at the protest.

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Before the event, Sacramento Police Department officers set up barricades in front of the Sacramento Convention Center to create a barrier between the conference attendees and future protestors.

During the event, Black Lives Matter protesters and counter-protesters had multiple altercations over the other group’s motivations in protesting. At one point, police used their bodies and their bikes as a barricade between both groups.

“Black lives matter” and “all lives matter” chants were being yelled while both respective groups stood across from one another, and tension mounted quickly. Loud profanities were heard being shouted from both sides, though there were no violent acts that occurred between groups.

“It’s been six months since my brother passed and nothing has been done,” Stevante Clark, Stephon’s older brother, said while at the protest. “The city has failed, the police have failed, community leaders have failed.”

Stephon’s grandmother, Sequita Thomas, was also in attendance, and she echoed Clark’s sentiment.

It’s been six months, they haven’t said anything, they haven’t done anything, the DA, nobody ain’t done nothing,” Thomas said. “No apologies, no remorse, they ain’t did nothing. It’s almost half a year and they ain’t did anything at all, for us. No procedure, not holding them accountable or anything.”

Sac State student Deon Taylor attended and handed out voter registration forms to protesters.

“I want to represent the minority groups and I also want to get people registered,” Taylor said. “If you want to see change you have to be a part of it and voting is a key to that.”

The Sacramento Police Department announced dispersal orders at 12:45 p.m.; soon after, protesters started laying in purple coffins that they had placed previously on J Street outside of the Sacramento Convention Center where the COPSWEST Training & Expo was being held.

Police officers on horses instructed their animals to move forward to push Black Lives Matters protesters back at around 1 p.m.

As a result, protesters left the Convention Center and started walking down 12th street at around 1:15 p.m. A helicopter hovered overhead while Sacramento Police Department officers on bikes and motorcycles anticipated protester’s movements.

Protesters walked through the streets of downtown Sacramento until about 4:45 p.m.

Black Lives Matter organizer Adrienne Pennington said it was “the perfect time” to demonstrate, due to the six-month anniversary of Clark’s death and that the training brought law enforcement agents from around California.

“California leads the way between Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department with being the most egregious departments in the state of California, when it comes to transparency and accountability,” Black Lives Matter Sacramento Chapter Lead Sonia Lewis said. “So at the end of the day that’s all that people are asking for. We are asking that you show your records, show proof that you’re not abusive to the community, do trainings that will de-escalate rather than escalate because if life is more important and more valuable than property, then that’s what you’re protecting and serving.”

“I hope officers will be more transparent,” Clark said. “Not only that, I hope that the nation sees this and holds their local law enforcement agencies accountable for the things that happen in their communities. I’m here for accountability, justice, transparency, equality, fairness. I’m here for my brother’s legacy when it boils all down to it.”

Sheriff Scott Jones encouraged the public to protest against Black Lives Matter protesters at a news briefing for the recent death of Sheriff’s deputy and Sac State alum Mark Stasyuk.

Stasyuk was shot and killed after responding to a report of a disturbance at a Rancho Cordova Pep Boys Auto Shop.

The counter-protestors that arrived expressed dissatisfaction with the timing of the original protest considering Stasyuk’s death.

“I’m kind of used to (the protests) already with everything that went on after the Stephon Clark shooting,” Yolo County resident Brenda Carreon said. “And with the shooting here yesterday of the officer here in Sacramento to come out here of all days to protest, it’s not a good time.”

“I’m out here because a sheriff was killed yesterday,” counter-protester and American River College student Nick Fowler said. “I’m here for the cops that do the right thing.”

Adria Watson, Margherita Beale, Cory Jaynes, Courtney Fong, Claire Morgan, Jose Fabian, Robby Sanchez, Will Coburn, Brittney Delgado, Shiavon Chatman and Francina Sanchez contributed to this report.