City College students gathered Monday in the quad to mourn the shooting death of Stephon Clark and bring attention to police brutality in Sacramento.
Called “Tell us how you feel,” the event is part of a series planned to start a dialogue between students, faculty and staff about violence and inequality, according to a campus-wide email by president Michael Gutierrez.
Clark was a former City College student from fall 2013 to spring 2015, according to Admissions and Records Supervisor Kim Goff. The unarmed African-American was fatally shot by two Sacramento police officers March 18 in his grandmother’s backyard in south Sacramento. Since his death, protests have erupted across Sacramento, calling for police reform and accountability for the two officers involved.
The Black Student Union, Cultural Awareness Center and Student Leadership Association collaborated to put on the event, according to Kim Beyrer, adviser for the Student Leadership and Development Center. The campus community was invited to express themselves by writing messages on long paper banners. Speakers included Vice President of Student Services Michael Poindexter, Student Associated Council President Miguel Guerrero, and BSU members.
“I feel exhausted, quite frankly,” said Daniel Robinson, member of the BSU. “This is the umpteenth time we’ve had to deal with this, the umpteenth time we’ve had to hold police accountable and they still—they still will not own up to their responsibilities as police, and as people who are supposed to be protecting the community.”
Robinson said he doesn’t believe Clark’s death will lead to reform on its own.
“Since the 60s and Rodney King, we’ve been dealing with this for a long time,” said Robinson. “There’s been no reform, there’s not going to be no reform until we make the reform. (Police) just want it over with. They don’t want reform, they just want to put a Band-Aid on it and let it bleed out.”
Also supporting the event was Aurellius The Saint, founder of Lyrics Matter, who said police should be democratically elected.
“They’re just hiring anybody, and it’s really looking like they’re setting it up for people that don’t have too much love for people of color,” said The Saint. “So that whole process has got to go. I think it should be elected like the people elect the politicians. You should elect the police officers.”
Police said they received a call about a suspect breaking into cars March 18, then spotted Clark from their helicopter breaking a window with a “tool bar” and then scaling a fence. Police said two officers encountered Clark in the backyard of his home where he lived with grandparents and shot him 10 times each.
Police said they saw an “object” was “extending from his hand.” Police said they later found a cellphone on the scene, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Former City College student Alicia Alves knew 22-year-old Stephon Clark when they were both students at Sacramento Charter School. Alves said her view of Clark was very different from the person police officers said had them “fearing for their lives.”
“He was friends with everyone. I don’t remember him having an enemy,” said Alves. “He always made sure to say ‘Hi,’ and keep a smile on his face, and keep a smile on mine.”
Alves said Clark was a year ahead of her in the class of 2013, but he played football and she knew him through sports. She said he was very encouraging and had a lot of school spirit, showing up at games and cheering even when he wasn’t out in the field.
“I was supposed to sing the national anthem for the homecoming game, and I was so terrified I hid behind the bleachers, and I just stayed there waiting for the microphone to come to me,” said Alves, recounting the first time she met Clark. “Once I sang it, I started heading to the game, and he turned around and said, ‘Good job.’”
Alves said she didn’t know what Clark wanted to be while he was in high school, but after high school when he had his first child, his life purpose became fatherhood.
“His main mission was to provide for his son,” said Alves. “So when he had the second (child), his main mission was to be there for his kids. He just wanted to be the best father he could be.”
Alves studied sociology at City College in 2017 but has since moved to Georgia. Alves said she knows Clark’s impact on people’s lives was too great for his story to go unheard, and that she hopes to see justice served.
Clark leaves behind two children, Aiden and Cairo, according to ABC10.
A GoFundMe account was set up to help pay for funeral costs, raising over $83,000.
Editor’s notes: The interview with Alicia Alves was originally used in a stand-alone story. Cairo’s name was misspelled in the original publication of this story.