SACRAMENTO – Whether its Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Minnesota or here in the capital city, every day seems to bring news of another Black man being shot and killed by law enforcement officers. Filled with grief and anger over what’s going on in the world and closer to home, a group of concerned local Black men have put out a call to action, imploring others to join together and demand an end to the “assassination of Black males” and a better course of action to hold officers accountable for their deaths.
The group, brought together by retired educator/ administrator Richard Owen, urges men of the community to join them for Black Men Demand Answers to State of Policing In Sacramento at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 19.
Owen said he watched the video of Philando Castile being shot by police in Minnesota while his girlfriend and her daughter were in the vehicle and knew he had to do something.
“It was just too much,” he said.
“You can’t sit on the sidelines for this stuff. I have sons, I have nephews,” he continued.
He and others, like local attorney Mark T. Harris and civil rights champion Marion Woods, worked together to draft the call to action that outlines their belief that “the lives of Black men in America, regardless of their station in life, are apparently without value and certainly worth less than that of White Americans.”
They’ll present Mayor Kevin Johnson and members of the City Council with nine demands ranging from the use and management of dashboard and body cameras to wanting detailed information on training procedures for sworn officers to public accounting on the effectiveness of entities created to address police accountability.
“These are not suggestions, these are not recommendations, they’re demands,” Harris made clear.
Harris points to the shooting death of Joseph Mann, by Sacramento police in Del Paso Heights on Monday. Officers said the man was wielding a knife and acting “combative” toward them. Mann’s relatives have said that he was homeless and mentally ill. Local rights advocates, as they have time and time again in such incidents, have asked why officers resorted to using their guns instead of tasers, as are often deployed when the combatant is White.
“We’re talking about the assassination of Black males. This is a Black male issue. The whole community should be up in arms about it,” Harris said.
Next week’s action, Owen says, is just the beginning and that the community cannot drop the ball once it’s set in motion.
“We’ll go (to a meeting) one time and they don’t see us anymore and they know it. They’ll wait us out, but not this time,” Owen said.
The Call To Action organizers are asking that supports get to City Hall, located at 925 I Street, at 5:30 p.m. The City Council meeting begins at 6:00 p.m.
“We want to fill every seat in the place with Black people,” Owen said.
By Genoa Barrow
OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer