“Police Terror By No Other Name” – Part 1

“Police Terror Has No Other Name” – Part 1

#Justice4StephonClark

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This isn’t a story about one individual, except that is all about #Justice4StephonClark and all of intersections that connect us to this OUTRAGE we feel based on his senseless death on March 18, 2018.  But let’s not mistake the fact that every word of this BLOG is dedicated to lifting STEPHON CLARK’S name and life, his mother’s life, his children’s lives, his grandmother’s life, siblings lives, extended family's lives and this community lives……this country and the world for that matter.  This is REAL LIFE SHIT and it traumatically affects Black communities in a life and death manner all of the time.  For every belief and stereotype anyone, non-black or otherwise, has about what it means to walk in Black folks shoes……THAT SHIT HAS TO STOP TODAY.

When you read “I,” remember I am (or very well could be) Sequette Clark, Stephon’s mother.  I am the mother of 6 boys, 4 bonus children and 2 granddaughters.  I am every mother who has felt the pain of burying a son (or daughter) age 23, 19, 17, 12, 8 or 5…..those are my boys ages.  Mine could be mistaken for Trayvon or Tamir or Oscar. Mine like skittles and toy guns too. Mine can be defiant and challenge authority. Mine like to play their music loud while driving or sitting in cars. Mine aren’t perfect. I take this personal, every time Black folks and communities are the target of abuse, excessive force and murder at the hands of the police because Stephon is just like mine and I am just like his mother. We love our children unconditionally.  Lovingly and unapologetically BLACK.  Loving BLACK hoods and our BLACK culture.

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So let’s get personal…..

On Sunday, March 18, 2018 at exactly 9:54pm, I received a phone call from an old neighborhood friend in South Sac/Meadowview area.  He said there was something going on at my Uncle Tommy T’s house and there were several police cars out front.  I tried to call my cousin but couldn’t get her on the phone.  I then called my sister, who called over to Uncle Tommy T’s house.  She found out they heard several gunshots in the neighborhood but that everything was OK, according to Sequita Thompson, my uncle’s wife.  By the time the 10 o’clock news came on, it was very clear that something major had happened on the block.  I began to worry because my uncle is a handicap amputee and his wife is not in the best of health.  All I was able to gather from the news was there was an officer involved shooting and my intuition led me to believe that it wasn’t good at all.  I didn’t sleep well that night, thinking about if someone was hurt in Tommy T’s home.

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Backstory. when we moved to Sacramento from Oakland in 1985, Tommy T and his family lived in that very same house for at least 10 years prior to our arrival.  My family moved into 3101 Meadowview Rd and we were literally 7 houses away from each other. My sister and cousin Bunny were inseparable, thick as thieves…..they attended John Still MS and I attended Luther Burbank HS.  There were too many occasions to count that we were at each other’s homes.  At the Thompson home the usual characters were always present - sisters/brother, aunties, uncles and cousins.  With that being said, Mr. Thompson was an employed homeowner, a tax payer, father and community fixture.  The entire neighborhood was an extended family.….there were so many families that are still in the area today – like but not limited to the  Wares, Browns, Melvins, Taylors, Daniels, Williams, Franklins, Brunners, Smiths, Fowlers, Burrells, Harris,  and so many other.

Immediately after the shots rang out, the entire block was shut off from the world and I soon found out that his daughter (my cousin, whom I mentioned trying to reach via phone) was on the scene.  She was told by officers that she wouldn’t be allowed to see her father until the crime scene investigation was complete.  From the news, we were able to ascertain that there was an officer involved shooting, but no officers were hurt. We know what that means. Somebody else got hurt. The question is: are they alive?  That information left me doubtful that real transparency would prevail, transparency that BLM Sac has been fighting for for years, even with the new police chief.  As usual, the media left me feeling a certain way about someone being shot in the neighborhood of my youth. I grew up there, and I took that personal. I said a prayer and it took me forever to go to sleep that night.

My alarm always goes off at 6:30am to get the kids ready for school.  After waking all of our kids, I returned to my room and there was a text at 6:33am.

Cousin Bunny messaged me, “Morning cousin, so the shooting was at dad’s house.” 

My reply, “WTF?” 

I immediately called her because we could not continue this conversation via text.  It was at that point she let me know it was one of Sequita’s grandsons who was shot by SacPD.  She was still on the scene and up to that point Bunny still hadn’t gotten the opportunity to see them personally.

I then went into First Responder’s mode and began to report information as it became available to me through our BLM Sacramento chapter communication channels.  My first thought was applying all of the trainings and conversations we had done to prepare for shaping the narrative and not letting Law Enforcement dictate how this story gets told.  Immediately, our chapter founder created an event for the community to express their outrage because we know what this police department is capable of when it comes to lies, negative narratives, cover ups and excuses.  Under the helm of the new “Black” police chief changes were promised. 

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By 8:13am, I had his name – Stephen Clark age 22 or 23.  The media had only said the suspect’s name wouldn’t be released until next of kin was notified (by that point next of kin was notified, as they lived in the home in which he was shot); but media didn’t know this.  What they didn’t know or report was the fact that he lived in the home of said backyard where he was murdered.  What the media didn’t know was that my uncle and his wife were interrogated by police detectives but the detectives failed to tell them the identity of the person dead in their backyard.  What the media didn’t know is those reckless shots were right next to my uncle’s bedroom window.  The pieces of this shooting mystery were starting to unravel in a way in which the cracks of recklessness were proving not much had changed even with a new "Black" police chief.

Backstory. Stephen Alonzo Clark was his birth name.  When he was a teen, he preferred spelling his name Stephon because he wanted to be distinguished from his father, whose name was also Stephen.  Family members also called him “Poppa” or “Zoe,” short for Alonzo.  He was 22 and was the father of 2 little boys, ages 3 and 1.  He had been with his fiancée, Salena Manni for 5 years.  He was a stay at home father and often times was found at his grandparents’ home helping Tommy T in and out of bed.

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By 9am, the BLM event “SacPD Murdered Stephen Clark Last Night” was spreading like wild fire.  I was still very much worried about Tommy T and Sequita.  Bunny and I were in contact all morning.  We reported the story first hand as it was told to us: “Last night a young man was gunned down in his own backyard.  His family wasn’t notified.  They found out by finding his body, and looking out one of the back windows.  This family needs answers right now!  Join us tonight, 5 – 7pm March 19th at the entrance of the Meadowview Light Rail Station, 3501 Meadowview Road.”

Bunny conveyed to Sequita that cousin Sonia was in BLM and that we needed a picture for the world to see what SacPD had done.  We finally got a picture and by noon the event was being shared and hundreds were checking they were coming or interested. 

Community members were commenting on their outrage.

“Omg!  This is horrible!  I didn’t even see anything about this on the news.  Is his death so irrelevant that it can’t even be reported?” – Karen

“Anyone need a ride to this?  I need to be back at 6:45, but I can take a few down to the station in my car and take some back on the way.  If you can spare the time, now is the time to show up.  Let’s help each other do that.  Please message me if you want a ride.” – David

“So sad another life taken.” – Debbie

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BLM Sacramento started immediately to get in formation, searching social media profiles for more pictures and inviting everyone we knew.  I stayed in contact with the family throughout the day.  At about 1pm, I drove down 29th Street from Florin Rd and everything was still blocked off.  I began to think to myself this is overkill.  There is no amount of an investigation that can be taking place for this amount of time.  The hypocrisy of change and transparency was on public display, as an entire community was commandeered and inconvenienced with continued police presence. This is further trauma and pain. It looks and smells like a cover up. We put out a simple Press Release to media, and we were on standby.

Before the event, chapter members met to make signs and everything was falling into place.  By 5pm, the community was descending on the Meadowview light rail station.  The community stood quietly in position with signs, while the family was prayed over and loved on by pastors, leaders, and community members.  His mother arrived and in front of one news crew, she cried out “SHAME ON YOU, SACPD. SHAME ON YOU.”  It was an extremely emotional night.  I did my best to stay close to the family and offer emotional support.  By the time we left the light rail station, it was 24 hours since the shooting and the cops still had the streets blocked off.  On the nightly news for Monday, March 19th SacPD spokesperson provided a statement, informing the public of their speculative narrative.

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Tuesday, March 20th I drove by again to see if the street was cleared. Tommy T was in his wheelchair in the garage listening to music with another niece.  I sat and talked with him for a while. At 1pm, family and friends gathered on the steps of the state capitol.  Later that evening, the community showed up at City Hall for the scheduled City Council meeting to express their outrage and to hear Chief Hahn further his department's negative narrative and spin, rather than focus on the simple truth. Two officers didn’t need to open fire on an unarmed 22 year old in his own backyard. There was no gun, no crowbar, no toolbar, no weapon at all.  Media from all over the country were descending on Sacramento. We were asked for statements and fielding inquiries. 

Wednesday, March 21st, we knew it would be essential to move quickly based on Hahn’s statement the night before. In formation, our plan was set in motion, a protest like no other and we needed this city to show up and show out for Stephon.  We knew the facts: “It’s the same story every time, being black is a crime.”  So the “Turn Up for Stephon Clark” event was created, and by Thursday morning the cry of the city was echoing. Nearly 3,000 people had marked interested or attending on Facebook. Other organizations and leaders came on board, so we could positively harness the heart-filled emotions of being “tired of being sick and tired.”

Thursday, March 22nd, Stephon’s brother Stevante and community leaders met to discuss what’s next.  At approximately 4:45pm a crowd at City Hall was starting to form and grow.  Several community members spoke to the crowd and several entered City Hall to chant.  By 5:30 the crowd was in motion.  Organically the pulse of the people was being heard loud and clear.  While BLM Sacramento provided a platform for this unified front, it was imperative that the crowd feel the freedom to be in the moment.  RAGE, HURT, EXHAUTION AND DETERMINATION were reverberated in the tone of the chants, almost like a moaning cry.

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The growing crowd headed down I Street and onto the north bond I-5 freeway ramp.  Uncontrollable, the crowd commandeered freeway traffic, first on the north bound side and then on the south bound side.  With hands in the air, the challenge to on-looking law enforcement officers from several agencies was defiantly, “I wish you would.”  From the freeway, we headed towards the Golden1 Arena.  The purpose of the crowd was to make as many people in this town uncomfortable as possible.  At one point, the crowd stopped in front of a restaurant called Sauced and we said his name--Stephon Clark--over and over again.  Some restaurant patrons got up from tables, leaving meals behind, for whatever reason.

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Organically, the crowd moved to the entry doors of the Golden1 Arena. There were a few community leaders who took turns leading the crowd in chants.  One leader called for the blockage of the King’s game scheduled for that night. Locking arms, we blocked doors, so ticket holders on the outside of the arena and to the arena staff on the inside could not interact.  “Who’s going to watch the Kings play tonight? NOBODY,” we chanted.  The Kings and Golden1 Arena staff tried to wait us out, first delaying the game.  The game finally started with less than 2k of 17k ticket holders in the arena.  Many in the crowd wished a door would open, as many were willing to enter the building and walk down to center court to shout his name, Stephon Clark.  How EPIC would that have been?  We may not have gotten that far, but the energy of frustrated citizens of all walks of life left a lasting impact on this city. 

There is a lot for law enforcement, elected city officials, local business owners and citizens to consider. We are far from done. This city WILL NEVER FORGET – STEPHON CLARK!!!

Our focus…..#Justice4StephonClark is a fight indicative of the need for community oversight, demanding accountability and transparency in the form of TRUTH, JUSTICE, CONSEQUENCES, INDICTMENTS, CONVICTIONS and SENTENCES IN PRISON FOR KILLER POLICE.

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Just like we have championed the fights for Adriene Ludd (10/23/15), Dazion Flenaugh (4/9/16), Patricia Hill (4/16), Joseph Mann (7/11/16), Igzabihair Yamakosi (12/5/16), Armani Lee (2/10/17), Lorenzo Cruz (2/25/17), Desmond Phillips (4/13/17), Nandi Cain (4/10/17), Ryan Ellis (5/5/17), Mikel McIntyre (5/7/17), James Nelson (6/23/17), Zityrua Abraham (7/9/17) and several others……we will stay fighting for Stephon.

The truth is essential. This city absolutely must be held accountable. No excuses for trigger happy cops, reckless calls of judgement and violent excess. While we usually ask for all video and audio footage of said incident, police reports and autopsy reports, Chief Hahn, in his effort of bringing transparency to the department, released the video Wednesday, March 21st, immediately after the family viewed the footage.  While Hahn is making a gesture of transparency, he undercuts that effort with statements laced with excuses.

Backstory. The night of the shooting, Tommy T continued to hear people talking near his window as his bedroom is parallel to the backyard.  When he heard the shots fired that night, he got his phone and called 911.  But what he didn’t hear were orders from the police before the shots were fired.  What disturbed him the most was the fact that the police felt the need to interrogate he and his wife Sequita about what they heard and who lives in the residence and if they were expecting anyone. The police told them not to look into the backyard because they were completing their investigation.  As the time passed, Tommy T grew bothered by the fact he was still hearing people talking outside of his window.  He called his daughter Bunny, who then urged Sequita to look out the back window.  It was in that moment that she screamed in horror, as she saw her grandson lying on the ground in a pool of blood.  She saw this cell phone on the ground next to him and that his earbuds were in his ears.

Tommy T and Sequita both felt helpless, as the police had hidden the fact that there was a dead body in their backyard and that the body was that of their grandson.  I could only imagine the amount of disrespect Tommy T felt in that moment.  To have lived in that very house for so many years and to be disrespected in such a vile way was disheartening.  In that moment, it proved so many layers to how systems devalues and disrespects certain communities.  To not have the courtesy of a knock at the front door before entering the backyard.  To interrogate the family, as if they were guilty of a crime.  To leave them in the dark for so many hours without knowledge of death in their backyard.  This was proof that Sac PD didn’t care to serve this man, this community member, or to protect the home he had sustained through hard work for almost 50 years.

How do you pay your property taxes for so many years and have your grandchildren shot to death in your own backyard? How does this happen without officers even giving basic details about what they're doing on your property? We all know how. When there is something to cover up. When there is disregard for the residents of certain communities. When there is no value for the community or life in said community. That’s how.

After Thursday’s protest, many in this city didn’t sleep. Sacramento seemed to have been awakened by TERROR OF THE POLICE. I hope Chief Hahn and Mayor Steinberg couldn’t sleep. I hope those RECKLESS, trigger happy cops who shot Stephon couldn’t close their eyes.  I hope our city council members couldn’t sleep.  I hope the 17,000 people who were planning on attending the game couldn’t sleep.  I hope the folks in Pocket, Land Park, Curtis Park and Village 14 couldn’t sleep.  We all need to be feeling the anguish of this murder.

The pulse is beating fast right now.

The pulse is beating hard and loud.

The pulse is causing breathlessness.

We literally can not breath through the helplessness and hopelessness that plagues us all.

The pulse of Sacramento needs to represent all communities and community members on an equitable platform, sharing in the value of what we all bring to the table.

The pulse will not be silenced, or we all DIE.

WE ALL DIE!!!

WE ALL DIE…..

(we all die)

Backstory. I am not ready to die. I am not finished.  We have demands and things to say.  There is plenty of work to do.  There are enough of us to SHIFT the tide of injustice.  We are all we’ve got, so we must stand together…..just like we did last Thursday.  Just like others did on Friday, March 23rd.  Just like the family demanded at a candle light vigil the night of March 23rd.  Just like those who continue to stand in the gap for the family, through fundraisers and donations.  We have hope. ”We are one, Sacramento.”  Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, Ferguson, New York, we are one in the same.  So we continue to fight POLICE TERROR, because “every 28 hours a Black person is killed by a police officer, security guard, or a self-identified vigilante extra-judicially” (ATPT).

If Tommy T being a resident on that block of 29th Street for almost 50 years couldn’t protect Stephon from being murdered by Sac PD, then we all are doomed.  This is everyone's problem. The problem is STATE SANCTIONED VIOLENCE, excused and overlooked by police chiefs, city managers, mayors, police unions. Killer cops are protected by a police bill of rights. But we the people have the power to change the dichotomy of two Sacramentos and two Americas.  Monday, March 19th, Tuesday, March 20th, Thursday, March 22nd, Friday, March 23rd, and Sunday, March 25th speak to that power.  We have to keep the momentum going and the demands simple:

First, swiftly fire the officers,

Charge them with murder,

Put them on trial,

Convict them of murder,

and Sentence those two officers for years.

They violated Stephon, Tommy T, Sequita, Sequette, the rest of the family, that community, and this city.

So we urge everyone to stand up and be present for this week’s City Council meeting (March 27th @ 5pm), and to keep his name alive. The pulse proves that we refuse to die.  We are not dead, because we refuse to let this die.  We have to remember POLICE TERROR is physical, economic and psychological.  The physical embodiment of terror is murder, excessive force, arrest, torture and incarceration. Economic terror comes in the form of fines, tickets and limitations on one digging out of economic traps.  Finally, this terror is psychological as it targets, threatens and harasses, and causes long-lasting trauma.

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This case of POLICE TERROR is not just Stephon Clark’s story, we cannot forget those who are also collateral damage and live in the cycle of STATE SANCTIONED VIOLENCE.  So we cannot forget who Stephon leaves behind…..or we ALL DIE!!! 

I ain’t ready to die. Are you?

His name is Stephen/Stephon Alonzo Clark, affectionately called "Poppa" or "Zoe." He was a son, father, boyfriend, grandson, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin and friend.  He graduated from high school and was liked by many.  He is just like everyone else walking this earth, not perfect.  He liked playing video games and looking good, especially in nice tennis shoes.  His two boys meant the world to him and he would have not left them for anything in the world.  He will forever be remembered for his gorgeous smile and amazing sense of humor.

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Stephon and his mother Sequette Clark.

#LongLiveZoe

#JusticeForZoe

#Justice4StephonClark

#CellPhonesDontShoot

 

What's Next - click the links for more event details

Let's Go See The DA! Charge The Police - Tuesday - Thursday, March 27th - 29th @ 3-5:30pm each day.

Fill The Court For Armani - May 4th @8:30am

Whose Streets? Our Streets! Alternatives to the Police - May 5th @ 6pm

Support Systems for Black and Brown Women - May 12th @ 6pm

CopWatch Orientation - May 26th @ 6pm

 

"It is our duty to fight for our freedom.  It is our duty to win.  We must

love and support one another.  We have nothing to lose but our chains."

--Assata's Prayer, Assata Shakur


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