Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn participated in a march in the neighborhood of Oak Park this week to show his solidarity with the community in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Police Chief Daniel Hahn, center, kneels with participants before they walked through Oak Park. Among those showing their solidarity are, left to right, Mayor Darrell Steinberg, City Councilman Steve Hansen, Dr. Nicole Clavo, Rev. Anthony Sadler and Bishop Parnell Lovelace. (PHOTO BY ANTONIO HARVEY)

Hundreds of members from the community, the Sacramento Police Department, clergy, and elected officials walked together from the Oak Park Community Center to Shiloh Baptist Church a half-mile away.

The “Solidarity Walk #TogetherWeBuild,” as it was called, fell in line with a national movement of rallies and marches protesting Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Floyd was pinned down and suffered nearly nine minutes before he died.

Floyd hollered that he couldn’t breathe and he passionately called out for his mother while a video showed his neck under the knee of an officer who displayed no emotions.

“What we all saw in the video in Minneapolis of George Floyd was disgusting,” Chief Hahn said. “We’re all here standing because it’s not the first time something has happened like that. We have to get to the root causes and change that.”

Hahn’s action is similar to Denver, Colo., Police Chief Paul Pazen’s gesture when images surfaced of him marching arm-in-arm with young protesters during a peaceful march on June 1.

But for this march — which has followed many that have taken place in the city since May 31 — Chief Hahn had real back-ups, including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan, City Councilmembers Angelique Ashby, Steve Hansen, Rick Jennings and Eric Guerra. U.S. Congressman Dr. Ami Bera (D-Sacramento) also showed his support.

Community leaders such as Cassandra Jennings, CEO and President of the Greater Sacramento Urban League, Healing 5 founder Dr. Nicole Clavo, Paris Dye, the North Highland program director for the Black Child Legacy Campaign, Mervin Brookins of Del Paso Heights’ Brother 2 Brother and others participated.

Faith leaders such as Rev. Anthony Sadler of Shiloh Baptist Church, Bishop Parnell Lovelace from Center of Praise Ministries, and pastor Bob Balian of Bayside Midtown joined the march.

“Let us remember the Floyd family and all of the families of men and women whose lives have been taken unjustly,” Bishop Lovelace said. “Our march today is honoring a commitment that all of us make to see a change take place. It’s got to happen. We don’t need to be patient. But we need to see change take place.”

In a sign of solidarity, Chief Hahn joined with all of the participants in getting down on one knee to memorialize Floyd.

Organizer Jamilia Land was impressed with how everyone jumped aboard with the project in such a short time. Ms. Land said she received great help.
“I want to thank Congressman Bera, the mayor, the chief of police, and city councilmembers,” Ms. Land said. “We had a large showing of power and community that were able to come together to speak to what is happening. What happened to George is not just George. George represents all of us.”

Brazzey Liberty, a young Sacramento social justice activist interrupted the event to show his opposition to Chief Hahn. Liberty, who said it was “a march with the pigs,” was disruptive, though many of the participants and organizers understood his position.

Fortunately, Ms. Land had a cordial 45-minute conversation with members of the Anti Police-Terror Project and Liberty after the event ended.

Not all of their differences were worked out, but both sides walked away with an understanding that they can respect each other. After talking to some community leaders from Oak Park about Ms. Land and her efforts, Liberty apologized.

“Everyone is entitled to the expression of self,” Ms. Land said of Liberty. “I believe he was there because he didn’t understand and his anger was rightfully so. He was representing the voice of people who feel that way. I’ve often felt that way. But that was not the time to disrupt.”

Ms. Land was first approached by an officer of the Sacramento Police Department about staging an event such as the solidarity walk but she had concerns — one of them was the two events Donald Trump supporters put on at the State Capitol three weeks ago, where the police made no arrests.
Ms. Land felt police officers would react differently to Black protesters. But she had a conversation with another group that wanted to do the walk. Ms. Land then turned to Chief Hahn.

“I called him in the capacity of Daniel, my friend, but asked him for something based upon him being the chief of police,” Ms. Land said of the conversation. “I pitched the idea to him, he mulled over it a few days, and then came back to say, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’”

Since the Stephon Clark shooting two years ago, Chief Hahn and Ms. Land have been working together with other groups to build a better relationship between the police and the community.

Many people, Ms. Land said, don’t like the union at all. But the two have vowed to continue the work for the sake of the community and the police department. Ms. Land does point out the wrong in the department more often than not, she said.

She knew it would be a risk to stage an event like the solidarity walk, though she’ll never regret it, she told The OBSERVER.

“I thought it was important that we come together as a community of people regardless of our differences,” Ms. Land said. “It’s no secret that Daniel Hahn is my friend. But I believe that God makes no mistakes. The work that we’ve been doing actually has prepared us for this moment to able to speak to the hearts of our fellow human beings.”

By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer