Photo Credits: RAUL MORALE / AGGIE
Students, community members protest DA’s decision not to charge officers who fatally shot Stephon Clark
From March 4 to 8, students and community members participated in the Stephon Clark Week of Action. This Week of Action was a collaborative effort by numerous groups in protest of the recent decision by Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert to not charge officers responsible for the death of Stephon Clark.
The Aggie reported in March 2018 that “Clark, a 22-year-old African American man, was shot and killed on March 18 in Sacramento by two Sacramento police officers. Clark was approached by the officers who were responding to a vandalism complaint in his South Sacramento neighborhood; within 10 minutes, the officers fired 20 shots at Clark, who was unarmed, killing him in his grandmother’s backyard. According to an autopsy performed by Dr. Bennet Omalu, Clark was struck, primarily in his back, eight times.”
Schubert announced her decision not to file criminal charges against Sacramento Police Department officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet for the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark.
UC Davis students and community members joined the throngs of angered, hurt, vocal individuals in their response to this decision. The Week of Action consisted of a chalking in front of the MU, a banner drop in front of Wellman Hall, an emergency meeting organized Students and Workers Ending Racial Violence, a sit-in at Shields Library, a town hall, a vigil in front of MU and the organization of a designated decompression space.
The chalking that occurred on March 4 included various statements including: “Say their names,” “Recall DA Schubert,” “No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police,” “It’s our duty to win,” “#NoOneIsSafe” and “Unapologetically Black.”
On March 5, a silent sit-in was staged in UC Davis’ Shields Library. The protestors initially met at the Cross Cultural Center and walked to Shields Library where they remained from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Various signage held by protestors stated: “No justice, no peace, no more police,” “#Justice for Stephon Clark,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Recall DA Schubert.” Posters held in the library stating “Who is Stephon Clark?” described the facts of Clark’s case. According to FOX40, approximately 100 protestors participated throughout the duration of the sit-in, which was followed by a march through campus and a rally in front of the MU.
On March 6, student organizers hosted a town hall at the Student Recruitment and Retention Center in conjunction with the Stephon Clark Week of Action. The town hall’s purpose was to create a space for students to come together, process and discuss their response to the DA’s decision. Throughout the town hall, facilitators encouraged students in attendance to share what they were feeling, their frustrations and ideas for how to work as a community to effect change regarding police racism and brutality. Furniture had to be moved in order to accommodate an estimated 80 students.
In an email sent to The Aggie, ASUCD’s External Affairs Commission Chair Nayzak Wali-Ali, described the goals of the “passionate student activists who put this event on.” Goals included recalling DA Schubert “for her conflict of interest and incompetence,” dropping the charges for all of the 84 individuals arrested in Sacramento during a protest about the DA’s decision and firing the officers responsible for the death of Stephon Clark.
On March 7, a vigil for Stephon Clark began at 7 p.m. in front of the flagpole in the MU. Over 50 students formed the large circle, lit by electric candlelight; many prayed, cried, spoke of action and anger, and advocated for change. The vigil included various student and community speakers and ended with a guided meditation led by Assistant Professor of English Danielle Heard Mollel. Mollel currently teaches ENL 51, “Hip Hop as Poetry” and decided to reorient class discussions “around the injustice to Stephon Clark, his family, and the broader Black community.”
“At Tuesday’s class meeting, we improvised around the topic, which culminated in my ending class early and having students who were interested follow me onto the Quad for a guided meditation,” Mollel said.
Mollel also stated that many organizers of the Stephon Clark Week of Action were in the ENL 51 class and invited extended an invitation to “offer a guided meditation for healing at the vigil.”
“My goal was to provide a moment of healing, rest, and care to a suffering community through calming meditation, attending to our wounds with loving-kindness, awakening to our interconnectedness and to the positive energy of community, and opening our hearts to make room for compassion and peace,” Mollel said.
Organizers of the vigil declined to comment on the event. In an email to The California Aggie, third-year international relations major Kaleemah Kennon Muttaqi, one of the vigil’s organizers, said “After checking in with other organizers, we’ve decided not to go forward with providing a statement. This was a collaborative effort, and we would rather allow the work to speak for itself.”
UC Davis students and community were an example of many organized protests, rallies, and vigils for the publicly perceived injustice committed by DA Schubert and the Sacramento PD. The Week of Action preceded the ‘legacy weekend’ created by the Clark family and Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, including a remembrance commemoration on the Capitol steps.
Written by: Priyanka Shreedar— firstname.lastname@example.org
City news reporter Anne Fey also contributed to this report.