Police Assault Media, Arrest Clergy, Legal Observers as ‘Uptown’ March Rattles Residents
By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO – The community here – incensed that City of Sacramento police officers killed an unarmed man in his grandparents’ back yard on March 18, 2018 and were allowed to get off free when the officers were not charged – marched through East Sacramento, the city’s wealthiest and most prestigious neighborhood Monday night.
The city responded in force. A mega, militarized force.
An estimated 200 SPD, Sacramento County Sheriff Deputies and CA Highway Patrol officers – a chopper and several dozen bike and horse mounted officers – made 84 arrests of clergy, legal observers, lawyers, disabled veterans and even a news reporter from the Sacramento Bee, who eventually was “un-arrested” and released.
It (84) was most probably was the largest number of people ever arrested in Sacramento history at one time.
After spending up to four hours in custody, virtually everyone was released from a special Cal Expo processing site around 2 or 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. They were charged with “failure to disperse,” but that was under dispute.
The demonstrators were ordered to disperse at Trader Joe’s near 50th and Folsom about 9:10 p.m. – where the march started at 7 p.m. Monday Local Government Relations Manager for UC Davis. Demonstrators – about 150 of them – marched up and down the “Fabulous 40’s” neighborhood with multi-million-dollar homes of Sacramento’s rich and famous and influential. They passed by the home, for instance, that former Gov. Ronald Reagan lived in during for his governor years.
That kind of audacity – to go “Uptown” – with shouting, sign-waving demonstrators protesting the death of a Black man, Stephon Clark, wasn’t going to be ignored. And it wasn’t.
“You won’t get any sleep. We’re in your neighborhood now,” said one demonstrator as marchers paused only a few times walking through darkened streets of East Sacramento.
The final dispersal order came about 9:10 p.m. and within minutes fully-armored police with batons, rifles and bikes – that were used as barricades and weapons – marched forward from two positions, pushing people and journalists to the ground.
Those in the crowd had nowhere to go, to disperse as ordered, than to walk down 51st Street and across the Highway 50 overpass and find their way home from there. Instead, police, who had forced them to leave the area that direction by cutting off other avenues, then mobbed them at the south end of the overpass near T Street and began arrests.
“We were all jammed in a small area. We wanted to get out of there but there was nowhere to go. It seemed that although the people wanted to go home the police had had enough,” said Dale Kasler, a Sacramento Bee reporter covering the event. He spent hours in cuffs for his trouble.
Earlier, members of the news media were chased off by officers, and a Sacramento Bee photographer pinned against a Trader Joe’s sign by suddenly charging officers wielding batons, and bikes like weapons against unarmed and peaceful demonstrators and onlookers even though they were not in the street.
Reporters quizzed the SPD spokesman at a hastily-called, midnight news confrontation.
“Didn’t you know Dale was a reporter – his ID was around his neck,” asked a reporter when the SPD suggested they un-arrested him when his credentials cleared.
“We want to keep the community safe,” said the SPD but reporters pressed that what made this protest any different that the many others this past year after Stephon Clark was killed holding only a cell phone, suggesting that protests downtown and in the poorer parts of town didn’t receive the same attention as this one.
In fact, there were about 14 arrests in dozens and dozens of protests this past year, and protestors shut down two Sacramento Kings games, and took over Interstate 5, among other nonviolent protests.
But one protest in the wealthy part of town netted 84 arrests.
The group The Table Sacramento, which organized the march, said the “East Sacramento location was chosen because it is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the City of Sacramento and home to many influential leaders in city and state government.”
“Our plan was to bring the issue to a neighborhood whose residents have proximity to decision-making power,” said J. Ama Mantey, an affiliate member of The Table Sacramento. “This is a neighborhood that would likely never experience such a tragic and violent loss of one of its residents, so we are bringing the discomfort and pain of our trauma to their doorstep in hopes of spurring their solidarity and political engagement.”
“The District Attorney’s press release focused almost exclusively on the actions and alleged motivations of Clark, with no equitable investigation into the officers’ text messages, state of mind, google searches, or toxicology reports. The Table Sacramento views this focus as not only inappropriate, but as demonstration of gross incompetence within the office, said demonstrators.
“Her (District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert) job was to determine if a crime had been committed by the two officers, Terence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, the only people in the interaction who had weapons and discharged those weapons 20 times to result in a loss of life,” said Joshua Robinson, on behalf of the Table Sacramento.
“Yet instead she focused her investigation on the victim, Stephon Clark. This was a misguided attempt to malign the victim by providing details the officers’ had no knowledge of during the incident in an attempt to explain to the Sacramento community why a young black man deserved to die.”
The Table Sacramento issued the following demands of both the City and County of Sacramento:
#1 Chief Daniel Hahn recommend Sacramento City Police Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet for termination immediately. City Manager, Howard Chan approves and executes this recommendation immediately.
#2 Mayor and City Council give full policy review, subpoena and disciplinary recommendation powers to the Sacramento Police Commission.
#3 The resignation or recall of District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and Sheriff Scott Jones.
#4 Stop the over-policing of our neighborhoods. The Sacramento Unified School District, Twin Rivers Unified School District and Natomas Unified School District end the contracts with and remove school resource officers (SROs, a.k.a. police) from our Sacramento-area K-12 schools.
#5 Sacramento Mayor and City Council and Sacramento County Board of Supervisors adopt the deadly force standards of AB 392 (Weber) at the local level immediately with the city and county’s full and public commitment to advocate for the passage AB 392 this legislative cycle at the state level.
“The five recommendations represent a series of policy strategies to prevent deadly encounters with police and to ensure that if encounters occur, officers who behave irresponsibly are held accountable by the personnel and judicial processes,” said Flojaune Cofer, affiliate member of The Table. “We will continue to engage in and encourage nonviolent civil disobedience until these recommendations are adopted.”