NEWS
03/23/2018 12:49 am ET Updated Mar 23, 2018

Protests Shut Down Sacramento Kings Game, Freeways Over Stephon Clark's Death

Black Lives Matter activists linked arms and blocked the Golden 1 Center while chanting: "Stephon Clark!"

Outraged over the latest police shooting of an unarmed black man, hundreds of protesters flooded the streets of Sacramento, California, on Thursday, even forcing an events center into lockdown minutes before an NBA game. 

The daylong demonstration was held in response to Sacramento police officers killing 22-year-old Stephon Clark in his grandparents’ backyard on Sunday night while responding to reports of car break-ins. The Sacramento Police Department said officers believed Clark had advanced toward them while holding a gun, though police only found a cellphone on him after an exhaustive search.

Protesters took to the streets of Sacramento, California, days after police killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark after mista
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
Protesters took to the streets of Sacramento, California, days after police killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark after mistaking his cellphone for a gun.

Demonstrators on Thursday first stormed the buildings of Sacramento City Hall before moving out to the streets and marching down Interstate 5, the Sacramento Bee reported. They also gathered in front of the Golden 1 Center and, with linked arms, blocked ticket holders from entering the arena for a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks. 

Protesters carried signs that demanded justice and criticized police officers for  shootings of unarmed people, especially black men

Some in the crowd carried signs that read, “Stop killing us” and “Black lives matter,” along with other messages demanding justice.

During the game, Sacramento Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé took to the court and called for everyone in the community to work together to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again:

At City Hall, protesters chanted, “It’s a phone, not a gun,” according to Ezra David Romero of Sacramento’s Capital Public Radio News.

Protesters also chanted, “Say his name. Stephon Clark!”

Police on Wednesday released footage showing the moments before and after officers shot and killed Clark while responding to reports of car break-ins. The videos were filmed from a sheriff’s helicopter and several body cameras.

While following Clark’s movements, deputies in the helicopter said they witnessed Clark shattering a sliding glass door before he encountered police, according to a department press release.

In aerial footage of the incident, thermal images show Clark running through a yard and hopping a fence. He stops at the home he shares with his two young children and grandparents. It is there that he’s confronted by two police officers. 

The body camera footage shows officers running into Clark’s grandparents’ backyard. From around a corner, one officer yells at Clark to show them his hands. Then an officer can be heard yelling “gun,” prompting both officers to open fire.

The officers, who fired 10 rounds each at Clark, said they believed he was holding a gun. The police department also said officers thought Clark was carrying a toolbar used to smash windows.

The only thing officers found on Clark was a cellphone.

After protesters blocked the entrance to Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings were forced to keep the arena’s doors closed to ticket holders.

The game started after a delay, with many seats remaining empty in the arena.

“Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home,” the Kings said in an official statement. “We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”

Outside of the Golden 1 Center, some protesters told ABC 10′s Frances Wang that they weren’t sorry for the ticket holders who weren’t able to enter the Kings game, “because as black people, they have been inconvenienced their whole lives,” Wang tweeted.

Stephon’s brother Stevante Clark spoke to the crowds outside of the Kings’ game, saying that the police “killed and murdered” his brother. 

“They think we’re animals,” he said. “They’re killing us like animals.”

Stevante Clark encouraged the activists to focus on their community while calling for justice. He also hugged Stephon Clark’s girlfriend and mother of his two children while asking the crowd to chant Stephon’s name.

According to The Sacramento Bee, protesters repeated a chant that is becoming all too familiar in the ongoing fight against police brutality: “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”

In the first three months of 2018, police in the U.S. have killed at least seven unarmed people, according to The Washington Post’s database. In 2017, they killed 68 unarmed individuals.

View photos of Sacramento’s protests over Stephon Clark’s killing below.

  • A California Highway Patrol officer is confronted by a Black Lives Matter protester during a demonstration Thursday in Sacram
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    A California Highway Patrol officer is confronted by a Black Lives Matter protester during a demonstration Thursday in Sacramento, California.
  • Protesters chanted outside of City Hall.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    Protesters chanted outside of City Hall.
  • A young girl wears a shirt with an image of Stephon Clark.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    A young girl wears a shirt with an image of Stephon Clark.
  • Veronica Curry, front with hoop earrings, raises her fist with other Black Lives Matter supporters.
    Sacramento Bee via Getty Images
    Veronica Curry, front with hoop earrings, raises her fist with other Black Lives Matter supporters.
  • A protester holds a photo of Stephon Clark during a Black Lives Matter demonstration outside of Sacramento City Hall.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    A protester holds a photo of Stephon Clark during a Black Lives Matter demonstration outside of Sacramento City Hall.
  • A protester carries an umbrella as he marches during a protest of the police shooting of Stephon Clark.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    A protester carries an umbrella as he marches during a protest of the police shooting of Stephon Clark.
  • Black Lives Matter protesters stage a demonstration outside of Sacramento City Hall.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    Black Lives Matter protesters stage a demonstration outside of Sacramento City Hall.
  • A Black Lives Matter protesters run onto Interstate 5.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    A Black Lives Matter protesters run onto Interstate 5.
  • A Black Lives Matter protester holds a sign as he marches on Interstate 5.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    A Black Lives Matter protester holds a sign as he marches on Interstate 5.
  • Protesters stand on a California Highway Patrol car on Interstate 5.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    Protesters stand on a California Highway Patrol car on Interstate 5.
  • A young girl holds a Black Lives Matter sign in front of Sacramento police officers on horseback.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    A young girl holds a Black Lives Matter sign in front of Sacramento police officers on horseback.
  • Black Lives Matter protesters block Interstate 5 during a demonstration.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    Black Lives Matter protesters block Interstate 5 during a demonstration.
  • Protesters hold signs as they march on Interstate 5.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    Protesters hold signs as they march on Interstate 5.
  • Protesters chant as they block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    Protesters chant as they block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center.
  • Black Live Matter protesters hold their fists in the air as they block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    Black Live Matter protesters hold their fists in the air as they block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center.
  • Black Live Matter protesters chant as they block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center.
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    Black Live Matter protesters chant as they block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center.
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