Demonstrators Arrested While Protesting Stephon Clark Decision Will Not Be Charged
The Sacramento Police Department is still defending its decision to arrest the 84 people.
March 05, 2019 at 5:52 pm
Update (March 9, 2019): Following the statement not to file criminal charges against officers involved in the shooting death of Stephon Clark, the Sacramento District Attorney will not press charges against 84 people arrested for protesting after the announcement.
ABC News reports Sacramento County District Attorney Anne-Marie Schubert made announced on Friday, "In the interest of justice, no charges will be filed in any of the cases submitted."
Protests broke out instantly after Schubert's decision not to bring charges against officers Terrence Mercadel and Jared Robinet. Among the 84 people arrested was a pastor, Rev. Kevin Kitrell Ross, and a local reporter from the Sacramento Bee, Dale Kasler. Mayor Darrell Steinberg scolded local law enforcement for arresting a member of the press.
"No member of the press should be detained for doing their job," Steinberg told media members.
Despite pushback from other city officials, the Sacramento Police Department defended its decision to arrest the 84 protesters during the March 4 demonstration. Many were arrested for what police determined to be an unlawful assembly and ignoring police orders.
"Initially, protestors marched in the street peacefully," police said in a statement. "Over the next two hours, however, the circumstances began to change. The group of protestors blocked access to a hospital in the area. Multiple vehicles were vandalized during the protest. For approximately one hour and forty minutes, thirty dispersal orders were given. … Some participants left the area, however, a large group remained," the statement continued.
"In the interest of community safety, protection of property and after multiple requests to disperse were made, officers proceeded with an orderly arrest process," the defense of the arrests concluded.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the decision not to charge detained protesters came after Steinberg and the city council ordered the public safety accountability office to investigate police procedures. Steinberg took to Twitter Friday to praise the DA in a tweet meant to appease all parties.
— Darrell Steinberg (@Mayor_Steinberg) March 8, 2019
Original: Dozens of people were arrested following a protest related to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne-Marie Schubert's decision not to file charges against the police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark.
The Sacramento Bee reports 84 people were arrested in East Sacramento on Monday. Clergy and several journalists were among the detained. The protest occurred two days after Schubert announced her decision.
"Was a crime committed? There's no question that a human being died," Schubert said on Saturday. "But when we look at the facts and the law, and we follow our ethical responsibilities, the answer to that question is no."
Clark died last March after he was shot eight times while running from Sacramento Police.
The protest reportedly started smoothly until Dan Iverson, an East Sacramento resident, showed up in a “Make America Great Again” hat. Several protestors predictably criticized Iverson, and his hat was eventually stolen. He believed his First Amendment rights were a valid reason to attend the event.
“I know, I know — why did I come down here wearing the hat? Because — to see what would happen,” Iverson said. “This is supposed to be a freedom of speech rally.”
Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.
As protestors marched from a Trader Joe’s parking lot to the streets, the police demanded they disperse. Activists noted there was a more substantial response to this protest compared to others with higher turnouts. Sacramento Black Lives Matter head Tanya Faison believes the location may have sparked a heightened police presence. East Sacramento is a predominately white and affluent neighborhood.
"We've had protests in other neighborhoods and this kind of response has not happened," Faison told NPR. "It proves that everything our D.A. has said, everything our chief has said, and everything our mayor has said was all words."
Police spokesperson Sgt. Vance Chandler attributed the police presence to reports of vandalism in the area.
"Shortly after we started monitoring the group at [approximately] 7:30 p.m., we established the group was unlawfully assembling by standing in the street," Chandler said. "We also received information that multiple vehicles in the area were vandalized."
Sacramento Bee reporter Dale Kalser was detained, and he says officers surrounded protest attendees.
"I was following the marchers as they crossed the freeway overpass on 51st Street," Kalser recalled. "It became apparent as we got to the other side that there was nowhere to go and that the police had basically sealed everything off.”
"There were 50, 60, 70 people all just sort of cordoned off into this small area at the south end of the overpass," Kalser added. "They just came and started detaining everyone, one by one. And I got caught up in that."
Mayor Darrell Steinberg says he was not satisfied with the police’s handling of the situation.
“I’m very disappointed with the way this ended. But I want to withhold judgment until I ask some serious questions in the morning. These are important questions,” Steinberg said. “It’s a reporter doing his job. This is extremely troubling to me.”
Now, check these out: