Stephon Clark Funeral Begins Thursday As Sacramento Unrest Continues The city has experienced nearly two weeks of continuous unrest after the shooting of a 22-year-old unarmed black man by two police officers.
NPR logo Funeral For Stephon Clark Held As Sacramento Unrest Continues

Funeral For Stephon Clark Held As Sacramento Unrest Continues

A man hugs another man during funeral services for Stephon Clark in Sacramento, Calif. Thursday. Jeff Chiu/AP hide caption

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Jeff Chiu/AP

A man hugs another man during funeral services for Stephon Clark in Sacramento, Calif. Thursday.

Jeff Chiu/AP

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Friends and family converged at a Sacramento, Calif. church Thursday for Stephon Clark's funeral. The city has experienced nearly two weeks of continuous unrest after the shooting of the 22-year-old Clark, an unarmed black man, by two police officers.

Dozens were unable to get in and waited outside during the services.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg attended the services. Rev. Al Sharpton spoke as did the family.

Stephon Clark's brother Ste'vante Clark shook hands with family and friends and gave them kisses. He also danced on the stage, hugged his brother's coffin and, during a speech by regional NAACP chapter President Alice Huffman, took over the microphone to deliver his own emotional talk.

"We're going to do coliseums for Stephon, we're going to do libraries, we're going to do resource centers," he said. "Stephon is going to live for generations to generations to generations to generations."

Sharpton defended Ste'vante Clark's behavior. "You don't tell people when you kill their loved one how to grieve," he told the audience. "We did not come for you uppity, bourgeois, proper folk. We came for Ste'vante, we came for the family, we came because this boy should be alive today."

Ste'vante Clark also called on the crowd to care for Stephon Clark's two children and their mother.

Sharpton embraced Ste'vante and promising to help his efforts to remember his brother.

"Stephon Clark has brought us back," Sharpton said at the close of the funeral. "We're going to make Donald Trump and the whole world deal with the issue of police misconduct."

"This is not a Sacramento fight any more, this is a national fight. Stephon has woke up the nation."

Sharpton also spoke to reporters before the funeral. "This is not local issue, but national issue. The life of this young man is not expendable. We cannot continue to have unarmed men be shot," he said in front of the church.

He added that the police officers, who turned off the audio on their body cameras minutes after the shooting, "hit the mute button like President Trump has been mute" on this issue.

Twice in the past week, demonstrators have blocked thousands of fans from entering Sacramento Kings basketball games. And on Tuesday night, hundreds of activists crashed a community forum at City Hall, where outbursts and disorder prompted the mayor to abruptly cancel the meeting.

Clark was killed on the night of March 18 after law enforcement responded to complaints of an individual breaking car windows. Two Sacramento police officers pursued Clark into a backyard — which turned out to be the home of his grandparents — where they shot at him 20 times.

After the fatal shooting, an officer said Clark had a gun in his left hand, but police later only found a cell phone.

During a White House briefing on Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Clark's death "a terrible incident," but said that it was "a local matter."

Protests have gripped Sacramento since the police shooting. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who previously said he would not "second guess" the officers who shot Clark but later called his death "just plain wrong," is struggling with keeping order and allowing the community to express outrage.

Hundreds showed up for a community forum at City Hall Tuesday. At one point Stephon Clark's brother, Ste'vante Clark, jumped atop the mayor's desk and later stood atop a lectern to deliver emotional, expletive-laden comments. Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio hide caption

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Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

Hundreds showed up for a community forum at City Hall Tuesday. At one point Stephon Clark's brother, Ste'vante Clark, jumped atop the mayor's desk and later stood atop a lectern to deliver emotional, expletive-laden comments.

Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

"I did not want mass arrests," he told Capital Public Radio on Wednesday, adding that if the police department had not shown such restraint in the past week the city "would have risked a full-scale riot."

At City Hall on Tuesday night, hundreds showed up for a community forum, where officials were scheduled to listen to residents for six hours. That meeting was cut short, however, after several disruptions — most notably Stephon Clark's brother Ste'vante Clark, who jumped atop the mayor's desk and later stood atop a lectern to deliver an emotional, expletive-laden speech.

"Hey shut up, you don't run s*** here," Ste'vante Clark yelled at the mayor during the meeting.

Steinberg called the forum into recess after the outburst. Ste'vante Clark left without incident and the meeting continued for a couple hours, until the mayor canceled it due to safety concerns.

Also on Tuesday, a large crowd of demonstrators stood in front of doors to the Golden 1 Center and, for the second time in three games, forced the team to close the entrances to the Kings arena.

City officials and the police department have vowed not to allow activists to disrupt Thursday's game.