SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Protesters staged a die-in outside of a police training expo to mark the six-month anniversary of the shooting death of an unarmed black man by two Sacramento Police officers.
Black Lives Matter protesters set out dozens of makeshift coffins in the middle of J Street by the Sacramento Convention Center on Tuesday. They later climbed in and raised a fist.
Organizers say the number of coffins in the street was symbolic of the people killed in officer-involved shootings, including that of Stephon Clark.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office is still investigating the shooting and determining whether charges should be brought against the two officers who fired more than 20 times less than five seconds after making contact with Clark in the backyard of a relative’s home. The officers say Clark was pointing an object at them that they determined to be a weapon, but the only item found around Clark was a cellphone.
For weeks after the March shooting, protesters took to the streets, demanding action.
Tuesday’s protest was more charged than most as it took place in front of the Copswest Training and Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center. The event started on Monday and runs through Wednesday. It also comes a day after a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy was killed while responding to a dispute at a Rancho Cordova Pep Boys.
Deputy Mark Stasyuk, 27, and a second deputy were shot by a suspect who fled the scene and was later arrested. The second deputy is expected to make a full physical recovery.
During his announcement of Stasyuk’s death on Monday, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones made a call for people to come out to the protest and “show your support for law enforcement.”
“We have a planned protest [Tuesday] at a statewide law enforcement conference in Sacramento. I know people have this overwhelming urge to do what they can, and not knowing what to do. One of the things you can do is go down there. Go down to the convention center [Tuesday] between 11 and 1 and show your support for law enforcement while they continue to protest law enforcement.”
The sheriff’s department on Tuesday walked back those statements, saying that the sheriff’s call for people to come out and counter the protest that was planned was not him calling for a counterprotest. It added that, “If community members are to respond today, the expectation would be for them to do so in a respectful manner, consistent with Deputy Stasyuk’s memory.”
A large group supporting law enforcement took the sheriff’s message as a call to come out and counter-protest.
“I’m here in support of the sheriff’s department in honor of the deputy killed yesterday,” said former law enforcement officer Don Jones.
Black Lives Matter activists formed a line and blocked them off. Sacramento chapter founder Tanya Faison said Tuesday’s protest had nothing to do with Stasyuk’s death and was about the group’s focus on law enforcement reform.
“We didn’t do anything to that sheriff deputy so to respond to us as a result of what happened to him is a huge racist statement,” she said, referring to Jones’ Monday statement calling for a response to the planned protest.
Stephon Clark’s grandmother says the counterprotest is exactly what Jones got.
“There’s going to be justice I’m gonna fight for my grandson till the day I die,” said Sequita Thompson.
The sheriff wasn’t available for comment.
No one was arrested at the protest, and most had dispersed before the evening commute.