Does a year make a difference?
How much time does it take to heal? How are you supposed to feel? I've been asking myself these questions over and over these last two weeks. Is the pain dulled? Is the trauma lessened? These questions are not just for self-reflection but ones that I ask on behalf of my people.
Black Folx have never gotten an opportunity to heal. Healing requires so much; so much that we have been deliberately denied. We keep fighting for justice. But when will we get it? The waiting was unbearable. We waited from the moment Stephon Clark was murdered by Officer Robinet and Officer Mercadal of the Sacramento Police Department, on March 18, 2018, until his character was assassinated by District Attorney Anne Marie Shubert, on March 2, 2019. What were we waiting for? A mere lingering possibility, only to be denied justice and to be further traumatized.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento has been fighting for essentially a year demanding justice for Stephon Clark. And here we are, and the year has passed. But the time does not heal. I do not believe it. I do not feel it. I do not see it on the faces of my people. The banal statement, that time heals all wounds, is one of those mindless things people say when they want to ease someone's pain but that we all instinctively know is a lie. There is no justice for Black Lives simply because we are human and we matter to those who love us. The only justice we have ever gotten as Black people in America has always been because we have to fight and if necessary, die for it. I've stated this before and will likely repeat it as a reminder. We cannot rely on these rotten systems for anything but foul play. It is my deep understanding of this fact that compels me to continue in fulfilling my duty to my people.
On March 18, 2019, one year later, we hit these streets and lifted Stephon's name to the stars and the moon. We called on him. Now, as our ancestor, he provides us guidance and inspiration. How am I so certain of what I say? Because I was there. I am a witness to our truth. It was a beautiful sunshine kissed evening as we gathered at the Meadowview Light Rail Station. But the tension, grief and disappointment hung on us like a dank and stale garment. We struck out more than 200 strong taking the streets of Meadowview, Stephon Clark's hood. We gathered our collective strength, the chanting as it always does lifted us, propelling us forward. And then I heard them, their voices clear and strong even over ours. As we marched towards the projects, I could see them, a throng of children and youth who were chanting "Stephon Clark, Stephon Clark!" They ran up to the limits of the fences to greet us! My heart and soul soared!
This is what I know, they stole Stephon from his family and from his community but we will never forget him. The children and youth reminded me that we are still here. We are still very much alive and that we matter. Our people need us to continue to fight not only for justice but to empower them, to give them something to look forward to, to believe in their true strength and beauty.
So, we marched on. Past the Pannell Meadowview Community Center through the adjoining sleepy rows of houses until we stopped and formed a circle in front of Meadowview Park. In the center of that circle Black Lives Matter Sacramento as we often do, created a safe space for family members whose loved ones have been murdered by law enforcement throughout California, to come forward and speak. When they spoke their words were simple, true and humble. They spoke through their grief and weariness. They were not all Black, some were Brown and that is only a testament to the fact that law enforcement targets and kills us disproportionately. The father of Petey Perez who was murdered by the police in Richmond, and the uncle of Auggie Gonzales who was murdered by cops in Hayward, called on us to continue to reject the lies that law enforcement routinely tell and to hold the murders accountable. Then there was Christine Vang, the momma of Darell Richards who was murdered by SacPD SWAT, when she came forward, she stood silently, and her silence spoke volumes. Several of the family members thanked Black Lives Matter Sacramento for giving them the opportunity to speak, to lift their loved one’s names. But we are humbled and grateful for their presence and their willingness to join us in this fight for justice. The family members' presence during this march was a monument to the love they have for those that were stolen from them and a constant motivation for us to remain relentless in our efforts. Several community members from Sacramento and the Bay Area also came forward to speak or share a poem to show compassion and support to the families.
Toward the end Sequette Clark, Stephon Clark's mother parted the circle leading the line of her family as they followed her into the center of the circle. One of her children, a younger sibling of Stephon spoke first. His voice low and his words few. He said, "This is not normal. This is not right." When Sequette Clark spoke she said, "I'm a mother who's reminded every day when I wake up that my son was brutally murdered." It's was powerful and devastating when the family members from the Bay Area and Sacramento hugged each other. Their common bond being the inextricable grief of their loved ones being murdered by law enforcement. Tears flowed down the cheeks of Christine Vang as she hugged Sequette Clark. The final words rooted in wisdom were spoken by Stevante Clark, the elder brother of Stephon Clark as he stepped forward and turned to engage us. He said, "we have to come together as a community and stand in solidarity. It's not just about Stephon Clark as much as I would want it to be. But this is about Joseph Mann, Darell Richards, Brandon Smith, Marshall Miles..."
The Clark family lead us back the way we had come. We were on fire! On our way back I believe our energy and resolve were renewed. Are we still traumatized? Are we still enraged? Are we exhausted? The answer is yes. We will continue to experience all these things until justice is won. Black Lives Matter Sacramento will continue to fight for justice for Stephon Clark, for Brandon Smith, for Darell Richards, and for Marshall Miles. We will remain unwavering in our demands for radical and necessary change in these systems. We will continue as steadfast abolitionist. We are intentional in making strides to rebuild what has been created and intended for Black Folxs so that we may strive and be successful. We will fight even harder still motivated by the notion that healing cannot come for Black people while we are being terrorized by these systems. We will win!
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Sat * 4/13 * 6pm