If you live in the Sacramento area or California for that matter, unless you are living under a rock or in a cave, there is no way I can understand you not knowing about the murder of unarmed #StephonClark on March 18, 2018, by two Sacramento Police officers who emptied both of their clips while shooting in his direction. On the night in question in the 9pm hour, officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal with the assistance of a Sacramento Sheriff helicopter above were led into the backyard where Stephon was attempting to gain entry into his grandparent’s home. Without going into all of the horrid details of that night, one thing is for sure…..by design JUSTICE continues to evade Black people in America. There are too many glaringly similarities in Stephon’s death to the more recent murder of Mike Brown by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri and even the distant murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi…..all of whose deaths are classic LYNCHING by definition.
According to Wikipedia….. “LYNCHING is a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor or to intimidate a group (typically Black people). LYNCHING is the practice of murder by a group of people by extrajudicial actions. LYNCHINGS in the United States rose in number after the American Civil War in the late 1800s, following the emancipation of slaves, they declined in the 1920s but have continued to take place into the 20th century. LYNCHING served the broad social purpose of maintaining white supremacy in the economic, social and political spheres.”
Since the beginning of this country, there is a distinct connection between WHITE SUPREMACY and the intentional demise of the Black community being under attack from the first set of Black footprints, through slavery, emancipation and Civil Rights and into modern times. With respects to lynching particularly many have asserted it is not just a thing of the past. In a RollingOut article dated March 21, 2015, “Although racial lynching is often viewed as a thing of the past, there have been several cases where Blacks have been lynched in modern times.” I would make the assertion that lynching hasn’t only been committed by community mobs but are often committed by groups granted permission by the state to “protect and serve.”
State sanctioned and sponsored violence too goes back to slave times, with said Slave Patrols overseeing the property of Black bodies. Today, there is a pervasive approach by modern-day law enforcement that values and protects property over that of Black lives…..and that can clearly be seen in the execution-style murder of unarmed Stephon Clark, where law enforcement not only murdered but became jury, judge and executioner. There’s no need for a great leap in this comparison, as the parallels of how and why we all must consider the legitimacy that law enforcement as a group is responsible for intentional acts of violence against the Black community base on a premeditated extrajudicial killing by mere definition….. a group, the “cops” per Wikipedia.
And just like the world witnessed the converging on of Sacramento in the aftermath of Stephon Clark’s murder, the world has chimed in on how the police have committed acts of violence with laws that date back to 1872, with respects to “Use of Force”. According to the United Nations, in a Reuters article in 2016:
“In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Impunity for State violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Police killings go unpunished because initial investigations are usually conducted by the police department where the alleged perpetrator works, because prosecutors have wide discretion over presenting charges, and because the use of force is not subject to international standards, the group said.
They recommended the United States create a reliable national system to track killings and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, and end racial profiling, which is ‘a rampant practice and seriously damages the trust between African Americans and law enforcement officials’. To improve race relations, education should be ‘accompanied by acts of reconciliation’ to overcome bigotry and past injustices, while federal and state laws should recognize the negative impact of enslavement and racial injustice…..”
One must further evaluate the legitimacy of this pervasive problem, especially considering how the state and its systems have historically oppressed certain segments of our country’s population. There is no other group in this country that has been intentionally attacked like the Black community…..PROVE ME WRONG. Not only with the measure of ill will and treatment, is the Black community the only community this country has FAILED in attempts to be made whole. The promise of 40 acres and a mule never came to fruition and when the word REPARATIONS is uttered to most white folks the assumption is Black folks are directly taking food off of their tables and out of the mouths of their children.
Reparations and Lynching are tough topics of conversation to have when one is afraid of the ugly truth. Moreover, what is even tougher is the realization that the denial of reparations and the continued lynching of Black people are contributing factors to the great divide in America still to this day. Khalil Gibran Muhammad writes about the history of lynching and the present of policing, in The Nation:
“The recent spate of racially charged police incidents, including the killing of unarmed black men from Sacramento to New York City, speaks to the urgency of a number of new projects seeking truth and reconciliation between the past and present. The newly opened National Memorial of Peace and Justice and its accompanying Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, confront the long and dark history of lynching in the United States. Stranger Fruit, Jason Pollock’s documentary about the police shooting of Michael Brown four summers ago, was released nationally.”
As we look at the above-mentioned resources, know that they are few and far between the as-mountable examples of proof with respects to the historical oppression experienced in the Black community at the hands of WHITE SUPREMACY. This only scratches the surface in exposing the truth about the TRAUMA inflicted unfairly, unwarranted and unjustly on the Black American collective. This dirty reality has far-reaching effects that can be seen in the conditioning and acceptance of premeditated oppression that often is manifested in the form of lynching…..and is parallel in definition and deed to that of times we thought we had escaped; the racism of the dirty south.
See, when considering the nasty reality of racism, we have to quantify and qualify what that truly means retrospectively to the past. Sacramento police department is likened to progressive racism of California that will smile in your face but wear you down with implicit biases, microaggressions and inherent rules that dictate the level of oppression, with the hopes of conditioning you not to fight.....so the haves continue to have and the have-nots continue to be SOL, "shit out of luck." While the Sacramento sheriff department is like that home-grown racism of the south, in your face and matter of fact in making sure you know your place.....nigga, boy, mammy, monkey, etc. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum of racism, law enforcement plays a role in making sure we follow the rules of engagement. Thus part of the memory of Stephon Clark will be the reality that he too was LYNCHED based on what we know of racism in America…..just like Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Rodney King, and Mike Brown. This blood-stained legacy continues to plague our desire for true LIBERATION. #NotOneMore
Ironically, this BLOG will come out on the 1 year anniversary of Stephon’s death. Further irony or insult to injury, is I grew up in the Meadowview community, 7 houses away from the home where he was gunned down and I know too well the family that has resided there for damn near 50 years. While I didn’t know Stephon well enough to elaborate on his life experiences, I do know what family means to the Clark-Thompson crew. I know what they experienced living in a community that was and is over-policed for the sake of controlling Black bodies. I ran from Meadowview the first opportunity I got because I knew too well the experienced being pulled over in Meadowview and knowing when inter-communal violence happens the police don’t do shit about it. I like the Clarks, the Thompsons and countless numbers of other black families have felt the choke-hold of helplessness because the city withholds resources from those who need it the most. But like our ancestors, we live because of who we are and our resilience can’t be stopped no matter how hard they try.
My connection to the family is by way of a man, who like my parents did all they could to live right and gracefully age to care for grandchildren like Stephon. Tommy Thompson is owed something no apology can fix from this city and its police department because his safety was compromised in a major way on that night. Even though a disabled amputee, his ability as a man to provide for and protect his wife and family was stripped away from him on March 18, 2018, on a different level. And in his own words on his birthday this year, he said, “never would I have thought I could be murdered in my own home by the police; the home I paid for isn’t safe from the police and any of those bullets could have taken my life with Stephon. This is not why I worked hard all of my life.” Tommy’s wife Sequita has been in and out of the hospital with complications since March 18, 2018. The family has been fractured and separated over this past year. Mental health crisis has come up on more than one occasion in this family. And coming from Meadowview, they are not alone.
The realization that the LYNCHING TREE is alive and well even in California is a hard pill to swallow. The bigger pill to swallow is the FACT that trauma and our limited ability to be safe while experiencing said trauma KILLS US. The proliferation of the LYNCHING TREE is the constant reminder of being worthless based on the lack of resources to save our lives. When their bullets don’t take us out, trauma will most definitely affect the longevity of our living. This trauma is what killed Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner who was murdered by a New York City cop who used an illegal chokehold, as he uttered with his last bit of strength, “I can’t breathe.” And closer to home, it is the trauma the killed Darell Richard’s grandfather, who died a few days after Darell was murdered by SacPD SWAT.
The LYNCHING TREE killed Stephon Clark and is wearing at his family and this community. The LYNCHING TREE keeps cops, DAs, AGs and elected officials employed, to puppeteer the masses into acceptance of the conditioning while pimping the cycle of poverty into our veins. Yet and still, BLM Sacramento is here to cut the LYNCHING TREE at its roots and replace it with structures that protect and provide for our collective welfare…..and that’s the power of ABOLITIONIST work, we are just trying to help the masses get free. #LiberationNow
Monday, March 18th @ 6pm - One Year Later!! Take the Streets for Stephon Clark - Meadowview Light Rail Station
Tues/Wed/Thur, March 19th, 20th & 21st @ 3-6pm - Occupy the Police Station!! We Need Justice - Freeport Station
Thursday, March 21st @ 8:30am - Justice for the Macon Family!! Court Support - 720 - 9th Street, Sacramento
July - Let's RECALL Scott Jones - various locations