SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An event commemorating Stephon Clark took place downtown Monday evening after the county shut down its original location.
It was a celebration of Stephon Clark, the man shot and killed while being chased by Sacramento police in 2018, on what would have been his 25th birthday.READ MORE: Police: Suspect Shoots, Kills Himself After Chase In Vacaville
“It’s a way to commemorate his legacy and his life,” Stephon’s mother, Se’Quette Clark, said.
But this event was forced to make a last-minute move due to COVID-19 concerns.
His family originally planned to hold the event in Sacramento’s Discovery Park, but that prompted the county to close the entire park, saying the event was unpermitted and violated the county public health order which forbids public gatherings.
“To shut the park down so we can’t have his birthday party is just cruel,” Se’Quette Clark said.
“It was a slap in the face of the legacy of Stephon Clark,” Stephon’s brother, Stevante Clark said.
Stevante Clark says they have precautions in place including social distancing, face masks and hand sanitizer.READ MORE: Thieves In California Are Stealing Scarce Water Amid Extreme Drought, 'Devastating' Some Communities
And he says Discovery Park is often crowded on other occasions with no crackdowns.
“Nobody’s practicing social distancing, nobody’s wearing their face masks at that park,” Stevante Clark said.
The event was then moved at the last minute to the park across from Sacramento City Hall. So why is the event being allowed in Cesar Chavez park?
The city says organizers did not apply for a permit but there’s a loophole. Permits are not needed if it is a “free speech” event like a protest.
Clark’s family says this gathering is a chance to highlight police reform efforts and community outreach being made by the non-profit founded in Stephon’s name, IAMSAC Foundation. Stevante says the name stands for “Stephon Alonzo Clark.”
The family says they hope Monday’s event will become an annual tradition.
“This will be something until the day I die,” Stevante Clark said.MORE NEWS: Pilot Says Truckee Plane Crash Likely Involved Issues With Visibility And Wind Speed
Sacramento police were nearby at times during the event Monday but made no effort to enforce public gathering prohibitions. Discovery Park was closed two other times since the pandemic hit due to anticipated events drawing large crowds.