SACRAMENTO — Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg delivered his annual State of the City address at the Sam and Bonnie Pannell Community Center Tuesday and it was clear that the Stephon Clark case was why he held the event in the neighborhood of Meadowview.
Mayor Steinberg spent a majority of his nearly 30-minute speech discussing “the profound events of the past year,” which primarily centered around the police-involved shooting of the 22-year-old killed in his grandmother’s backyard.
“This would not be an honest speech about the state of our city if we did not today, at this moment, talk about race, peace, justice, and the death of Stephon Clark,” Steinberg said.
“The shooting of Stephon Clark, less than a mile from where we gather this morning, did not create this moment. But it undoubtedly intensified and elevated the movement by ripping open deep wounds in our past,” he added.
Mayor Steinberg publicly apologized to Clark’s family and declared that “the outcome was wrong” and that the young father of two little boys “should not have died” the way he did on Sunday, March 18, 2018.
“I struggle with the right words and how to speak to the entire community,” Mayor Steinberg said. “I listen to Stephon’s family and the community says that this has happened too many times. And they are right.”
All of the City Councilmembers were in attendance with the exception of Sacramento City Councilman Allen Wayne Warren. State Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan, and Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn were also in the audience.
They all listened to Steinberg as he made references of how many young “law-abiding” African American males have hostile experiences with law enforcement. He also pointed out that “some younger people, of all races, act irresponsibly” in public.
“That’s true too,” Steinberg said.
The mayor did not leave out the important and stressful work of what he called “modern-day police officers.” He emphasized that police officers “both put their lives at risk and they have an awesome power to take lives.”
“As a community and as a country, we have an obligation to insist that this awesome power be tempered with wisdom, justice, and humility,” Mayor Steinberg said. “Where they exercise that power harshly or unfairly, we must hold them and ourselves accountable.”
Members of the Sacramento Police Department, cordial and respectful, had a heavy presence at the event, patrolling every aspect of the facility at the corner of 24th Street and Meadowview Road.
“Our police officers put their lives on the line. They and their families live each day with the fear of not knowing whether they will come home alive,” Steinberg said.
“They confront real crime. They often protect our neighborhoods from gangs, robberies, home break-ins, and help people who are having a hard with addition, mental illness and simply surviving. I have seen it,” the mayor added.
Stevante Clark, the brother of Stephon Clark, was also in attendance to hear the mayor’s State of the City address. He said he listened to every single word by Steinberg, concluding that he had “a lot of mixed reactions.”
“I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know if it’s politics or if he actually means what he says,” Stevante Clark said. “It all sounds good. But we don’t know? It’s something we have to follow up on for sure. If we don’t, no one will be held accountable in the long run.”
The community still awaits the Sacramento County District Attorney’s decision on whether or not to charge the two officers who shot at Clark 20 times 11 months ago.
“We all know that the mayor is trying to do the best he can. He’s trying to work with what the best he has,” Stevante Clark said. “But we’re just waiting for justice and accountability. We have transparency. But transparency without accountability means nothing.”
Over the next five years, Steinberg said he would like at least $40 million a year from Measure U set aside for an “economic trust fund” to aide areas such as Oak Park, Del Paso Heights and Meadowview. Measure U, the half-cent tax passed by voters last November, is expected to generate $100 million each year.
In addition to the State of the City address, Steinberg presented local community advocate Jackie Rose with the annual Mort Friedman Legacy Award, which honors a member of the community who embodies the spirit of Sacramento.
Ms. Rose, who also received a key to the City, is the founder of the Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center, RFCE. Founded in 2013, the RFCE empowers families with the tools needed to build and sustain a self-sufficient quality of life in the Meadowview area.
By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer