Sacramento, April 1 (IANS) Hundreds of people participated in a march to demand justice and pay tribute to a young unarmed African-American who was shot dead by police in the courtyard of his grandparents house earlier this month.
The march was held in the California capital Sacramento on Saturday, reports Efe news.
It was led by former NBA basketball player Matt Barnes, who on Thursday shouldered Stephon Clark’s coffin and offered to pay for his funeral together with DeMarcus Cousins, both former players of the local Sacramento Kings team.
“They keep killing us, and it could be any one of us. Now, having a little bit of colour to your skin means you’re guilty. That shouldn’t be the case,” Barnes said.
“The fact is that there is so much isolation and so much segregation because we do not understand, we do not hear and we are afraid of what we do not know. We don’t know the cops and that’s why we’re afraid of them. They don’t know us and so they are afraid of us.”
He invited the African-American community to build bridges with the police and urged the officers to “get out of their patrol cars” and start walking in the neighbourhoods to get to know the residents.
With one of Clark’s two children in his arms, the former basketball player pledged to create a fund to pay for the children’s college education.
Clark’s family also spoke to the group of protesters and called for justice for the young man, who was 22 when he died on March 18.
Two policemen, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, fired up to 20 shots at Clark in the backyard of his grandmother’s house because they thought he was a threat and carried a gun, although in reality the only thing they found on the body was a cell phone.
Saturday was the fifth consecutive day of demonstrations in Sacramento, and protests reignited on Friday night after new details about Clark’s death were revealed.
An autopsy, commissioned by the family, revealed that the young man was shot six times in the back, which contradicts the police’s version, released one day after the incident, which claimed that the officers “saw the suspect coming towards them, moving forward with his arms outstretched and holding an object in his hands”.
The fact that he was shot in the back while unarmed has generated more anger among the protesters who, on their banners, compared Clark’s death to the lynching of African-American in the southern US for decades.