SOUTH SACRAMENTO – Having come together to mourn Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old Black father killed by Sacramento police officers on March 18, many funeral goers voiced the common refrain, “that could have been my son.” Veteran activist Rev. Al Sharpton echoed the sentiment in a rousing eulogy delivered at the Bayside Boss Church service on Thursday.
“This brother could be any one of us,” Rev. Sharpton said.
The civil rights champion says he stands with Clark’s family as they take on local law enforcement.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Rev. Sharpton said. “We’re here for the family to get justice and to get answers.”
Clark was fatally shot in his Meadowview area back yard Sunday, after two Sacramento Police Department (SPD) officers shot at him more than 20 times. Officers says they believed Clark, a graduate of Sacramento High School, was pointing a gun at them, and “fearing for their safety,” they fired their duty weapons. One officer shot 10 times, another at least 11 times. Police admit they only found a cell phone, not a gun or a “toolbar,” on the scene.
Clark’s death has sparked protests in Sacramento and beyond. After his funeral, protesters again took to the streets of downtown Sacramento, stopping at the Federal Courthouse and the District Attorney’s Office.
“Stephon Clark woke up the nation,” Rev. Sharpton said.
Stephon Clark’s brother Ste’Vante Clark interrupted the funeral proceedings as he had done earlier in the week at a Community Dialogue session with the Sacramento City Council. Like on Tuesday, Ste’Vante Clark again led people in a call and response chant of “I am … Stephon Clark.” He hugged Sharpton and kissed him on the cheek while he spoke.
Sharpton said you can’t kill someone’s loved one and then tell them “how” to grieve.
Ste’Vante Clark also kissed his brother’s casket and invited other family members to come to the microphone and share positive memories. One friend recalled asking Stephon Clark what he wanted to be in life and him answering that he simply wanted to be a good father.
Clark’s two young sons, Aiden, 3 and Cairo, 1, attended the services, lovingly held in the arms of relatives.
“We will make sure that his kids grow up knowing there is an entire community that stood behind them,” shared speaker Imam Omar Suleiman. Ste’Vante Clark spoke of naming a library or community center in his brother’s honor, a place where young people can go to learn and be safe.
“Stephon is going to live for generations and generations,” he said. The funeral also included moving performances by the Boss Church Praise Dancers, a group of youth that included Stephon Clark’s little sister, Cai’Lyn Clark; and a poem, “I, Too, Have a Dream,” written by his cousin, Se’Quette Clark.
By GENOA BARROW
OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer