Stephon Clark protest in East Sac leads to 84 arrests

By Dave Kempa and Raheem F. Hosseini

Demonstrators outfoxed police Monday evening, piloting a surgically disruptive march through one of the Sacramento’s richest neighborhoods. Police, who beefed up security around the Golden 1 Center before the night’s Kings game, responded with overwhelming force—and escalated tensions at a raw moment in the city.

Two days after Sacramento County’s district attorney said she would not file criminal charges against the two officers who killed Stephon Clark—and 12 hours before California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the same—police arrested 84 people on a Highway 50 overpass near 51st Street.

Numerous participants and witnesses said the quickly planned march, which began at a Trader Joe’s on Folsom Boulevard and 50th Street before cutting through the affluent heart of the Fab 40s neighborhood, was winding down when officers declared an unlawful assembly, hemmed in marchers and ordered them to disperse.

Around 10:30 p.m. Monday, community activist Berry Accius said he had just left the march when he got word that Les Simmons, a South Sacramento pastor, had been arrested. The Rev. Shane Harris, national president of the People’s Alliance for Justice, was also arrested. Reporters with the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Business Journal and Sacramento State’s college paper were also detained.

That prompted Mayor Darrell Steinberg to demand a Tuesday morning audience with Police Chief Daniel Hahn, whom he had supported. “No matter the reason an order to disperse was given, no member of the press should be detained for doing their job,” Steinberg said in a statement. Later Tuesday, he and City Council members requested an independent investigation of the incident by the Office of Public Safety Accountability.  The mayor is opening Tuesday night’s City Council meeting for further community reaction.

Several protesters gave troubling accounts that police kettled them in on the overpass, making it impossible to follow the orders to disperse. An 18-year-old poet and actress who goes by the name Khalypso tweeted that she overheard one officer on scene tell another, “So we’re trapping them on the bridge, right?”

A police spokesman didn’t immediately respond to SN&R’s request for comment. But police Capt. Norm Leong tweeted around 8:30 p.m. Monday that officers had “been seeing cars getting keyed so we are going to move closer into protest group to protect vehicle.” He added, “We have not seen who is doing the damage.”

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