Black Lives Matter organizes 3 days of sit-ins

Protesters took to the Sacramento Police Department to show their support for Stephon Clark


Robert Pierce - The State Hornet

Sac State alumna Breanna Martin shows off an ornate and hand-made coat she attended Tuesday’s sit-in with.

Black Lives Matter Sacramento organized three days of sit-ins last week at the Sacramento Police Department on Freeport Boulevard.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday beginning at 3 p.m., protesters stood in front of the Sacramento Police Department with signs showing support of Stephon Clark and calling for the imprisonment of the two officers who shot and killed him, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet.

The protests will continue this week, starting Tuesday.

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Tuesday’s protest began with protesters from the group Allies of Black Lives Matter setting up supplies, including food and beverages, for demonstrators.

“I am here because police violence in America is a real epidemic,” said Patrick Gavvet, a journalism student at Sacramento City College. Gavvet described himself as a “local ally of Black Lives Matter and activist generally.”

“I have watched the tape too many times for my own mental health, but it was very clear that he did not present a threat,” he said of Clark’s death.

Gavvet also said that he thinks the police system in America is corrupt and he recognizes the way people of color are treated.

“It was very clear that he was scared. It doesn’t matter that he was potentially intoxicated. It does not matter that he was potentially breaking windows and the like,” Gavvet said. “All they knew was that he was a black man in somebody’s backyard.”

At around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, more demonstrators — including core BLM Sacramento leadership such as Tanya Faison, the founder of the city’s chapter — arrived at the police department. They passed out and held up signs that displayed messages such as “Pigs Belong in Pens,” “DA Schubert Guilty of Racial Terror” and “Black Lives Matter”.

Protesters stood in front of the police station in nearly complete silence for roughly 10 minutes until loudspeakers began to play music while protesters grilled food.

Leaders of BLM took to the microphone to encourage participants to move about and continue to be lively.

“Why I’m here is I want justice… I want accountability, and if you can’t give me accountability you better give me Stephon back,” said Sacramento State alumni Breanna Martin.

“That’s what I want,” Martin said. “Give me all the black lives that have been lost. I want it back. I want it all back.”

Also in attendance to Tuesday’s sit-in were Legal Observers from the National Lawyers Guild, including co-Vice Presidents Joseph Kowalski and Cress Vellucci.

According to their website, Legal Observers are marked by neon green hats and they monitor police during protests and other events. They are there to record and report badge numbers in the case of police misconduct.

Legal Observers have also been present at several other Stephon Clark related protests, including Monday night’s protest in East Sacramento, where 84 people were arrested.

RELATED: Stephon Clark protest in East Sac ends with 84 arrests

“I really do believe, though, that they were trying to make a point, they meaning law enforcement,” Vellucci said of the mass arrests made on Monday. “This is their city, they decide who gets arrested, when, and how it’s done. We had Sheriff’s deputies out there, CHP, Sacramento Police Department, we had at least three agencies out there, and the protest was basically over.”

Kowalski offered his opinion on why he thinks police made so many arrests on Monday night.

“I think they wanted to make mass arrests because people read all these protesters got arrested, instantly they turn against the protesters because they think they must have done something wrong,” Kowalski said.

Wednesday’s sit-in included protesters who also set up food and sign distribution tents before they began to picket on the corner of Freeport Boulevard and Claudia Drive with signs that read “Protect and Serve NOT Kill and Neglect,” among others.

Protesters at all three sit-ins included community members, students and Black Lives Matter activists.

Jordan Silva-Benham, Robert Pierce, Dominic Vitiello, Reanna Simmons, Mitchel Bobo and Ashton Byers contributed to this report.