The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

City College grieves again after DA declines to charge officers who killed Stephon Clark
Photo by Ryan Middleton | Photo Editor | [email protected]

by Katy Escobar | Staff Writer | [email protected]

A crowd of 100 students, faculty and staff gathered in the main quad May 4 at noon to again mourn the death of Stephon Clark, a former City College student and young father who was killed by Sacramento police in his grandmother’s backyard almost a year ago.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento County District Attorney Ann Marie Schubert announced at a press conference that criminal charges will not be filed against Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet, saying that no crime was committed because the two officers believed that the cell phone Clark was holding was a gun.

Additionally, Schubert revealed personal information about Clark, including his internet search history and private text messages according to the Sacramento Bee.

The mood on campus during the open mic event was somber as students and staff expressed anger and grief at the apparent justification of Clark’s killing.

Cultural Awareness Center coordinator Dr. Adrienne King asked the crowd to reflect on the loss suffered by Clark’s family.

“Let us take a moment of silence for the Clark family who have gone through tremendous trauma,” said King. “Not just in reference to the murder of their son, their grandson, their father, their brother, but because of the way in which the DA took the time to castigate the victim, to turn it around on him. And so that is re-victimization and that is re-killing.”

Queen Jones, member of the Black Student Union, also spoke on Schubert’s decision.

“I don’t feel any pressure was underneath the DA when it came to this issue. She had no problem saying what she said,” said Jones. “I think she put her personal feelings about black people, period, into what her judgment was. She needs to be fired. We need her out of that seat just as much as we need Trump out.”

Jacqueline Adams, who said she knew Clark personally, disagreed with the way she saw him characterized by many media outlets.

“They try and make Stephon seem like he’s a bad person, but he was actually a really kind and loving person, helping everybody out when he could,” she said.

Iris Price, a nursing student at City College who is married to someone who works in law enforcement, expressed her pain about the way Clark’s case was handled.

“It’s sad because we kind of expected the officers not to be charged. This has been happening over decades,” said Price. “The media reflected on a lot of his personal business which is not OK. He can’t speak from the grave. Why does that matter? Who’s going to cry out for Stephon Clark?”

Student Senator Sheku Baryoh, one of the first students to take the mic, moved many members of the crowd to tears as read a letter he wrote to Clark’s mother.

“What you have gone through over the past 12 months is what no mother should ever experience,” read Baryoh. “Like many before him, he was snatched out of your warm embrace by evil men dressed in blue. They did so with pride and confidence. They know their fellow counterparts in black robes will protect them.”

Photo by Ryan Middleton | Photo Editor | [email protected]

Baryoh continued, “If the evil men take me, too, I will search for my brother and take him by the riverbank, the same riverbank where our ancestors sat and sang the song of freedom. I shall say these words to my brother, ‘Your death was not in vain. Your death inspired thousands. You touched the heart of many.’”

Another student performed an original song.

“Stephon, you’re a god. I know we some gods, too,” she sang. “Knowing exactly who you are, seen you from space, super bloom.”

Vice President of Student Services Melanie Dixon, who emceed the event, empathized with students.
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“It is horrific as an administrator to stand up here and see the pain in my students’ faces,” she said. “To see the experiences that are happening in our communities with no solution.”

Many black students talked about the fears they live with in regards to how they’re treated by law enforcement.

Sabrina Edward, president of the Clubs and Events Board, said, “This didn’t have to happen. It’s really scary to see how police officers tend to react.”

Nicole Hampton shared a story of when she was detained by police at age 17 after pulling into a gas station in a car with expired registration.

“That could have been me,” said Hampton. “I could hear them saying, ‘What else are you going to get her for?’ They were trying to pin stuff on me, literally.”

Hampton continued, “Unfortunately, we have to teach our children, don’t talk this way, don’t put your sweatshirt over your head, all of these things they have to think about instead of being a child and living their lives.”

Foy Reynolds, whose education at City College began later in life, asked the crowd to put themselves in Clark’s family’s shoes.

“It hit me to my core to see how it’s going. I’m lucky to be still here standing, because there’s a whole lot of opportunities they had to erase me too,” said Reynolds. “We got to protect each other. Ask yourself, how would you feel if it was your son? How would you feel if it was your nephew or your dad? You can’t bring nobody back. It’s a mistake that can’t be redone. So it’s not a mistake, it’s a problem.”

Nursing student Kasheena Winn asked the crowd to acknowledge the different realities black people live with in comparison to their white counterparts.

“For the white people out there, I need ya’ll to understand that you have a privilege that we don’t. Ya’ll got different rights with the police,” explained Winn. “Ya’ll can be brandishing weapons everywhere. We got phones, but we getting gunned down quick, no questions asked. We have to view the world, unfortunately, with trust issues. So check your friends. Black lives matter, sweetie. Because that’s the one life that’s in jeopardy.”

City College administrators also shared their own thoughts and feelings at the mic throughout the event.

Dr. Molly Springer, dean of Student Equity and Success expressed solidarity with grieving students.  

“I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Osage. It makes me angry as your ally and as an indigenous woman that every day we’re still fighting for our rights to decolonize and get through our trauma,” said Springer. “It stays in us, that ancestral trauma. It’s called epigenetics. So we have to keep healing.”

“It’s not just about education at a community college, it’s about how we change the trajectory of the lives of the people that we serve,” said Dixon. “Everybody has to invest their time and energy and love and compassion and humanity to do that. So I would ask you as you sit here today and listen, how will you be brave to change the discourse and the trajectory of communities of color?”

Student Senate President Kimberly Ramos encouraged students to stay involved in efforts for justice both on and off campus.

“The most effective way to be heard is by joining an organization that represents and fights for what you believe in,” said Ramos. “Together and united we are stronger. It is our generation that will continue educating ourselves to change policy to make it equitable for everyone, especially our black community.”

Photo by Ryan Middleton | Photo Editor | [email protected]

As the open mic came to a close, many students continued the conversation in small groups, exchanging embraces, words of support and ideas about future actions.

Events to honor the life of Stephon Clark are taking place on campus throughout the week. The Black Student Union will stage a walkout the morning of Thursday March 7, and a vigil will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening at the Performing Arts Center under the awnings.

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