Sacramento Black Lives Matter founder Tanya Faison is facing a charge of trespassing after she and three other women interrupted a private lunch event where Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert was scheduled to speak.
The four women paid to attend a meeting of the Women Lawyers of Sacramento at Lucca Restaurant in Midtown last Thursday. When guest speaker Schubert arrived, the women stood up and held a banner that read "DA Schubert, Your hands are bloody too."
Faison told CapRadio that they knew they were risking arrest. “But we just expected to be removed and not arrested and then cited, and released," she said on Friday.
A manager who identified himself as the restaurant’s owner asked Faison and the demonstrators to leave. A spokesperson with the Sacramento Police Department says officers were waiting outside the restaurant, and that a member of Schubert’s staff called the department using a special radio.
The local Women Lawyers group holds regular meetings at the restaurant, and the manager was told the day before Schubert’s event that that there might be some demonstrators outside, according to the restaurant.
In a video of the incident posted on Black Lives Matter’s Facebook page, officers can be seen escorting the women from the restaurant. Police cited Faison and Sandra Boykin for trespassing.
The department says the group had no standing to file a complaint on its own, but the restaurant did.
Professor Leslie Gielow Jacobs with McGeorge School of Law says the restaurant and lawyers’ group were within their rights to ask people to leave, regardless of whether Faison and others had bought tickets to the event.
"If it's just a private group saying 'We're choosing who's gonna be there,’ then the Constitution doesn't apply to them and they can choose what gets said there,” Jacobs said.
The restaurant’s owners, Terri and Ron Gilliland, were not present during the incident. She says the restaurant’s manager only called police at the request of the lawyers group.
“It hurts all of our hearts at Lucca to be called out as racist [on social media] as that is far from the truth. We all have people in the black community that are friends or family and who we love dearly,” Gilliland said.
She believes her staff was put in an unwinnable situation. “At the end of the day, we are not here to judge anyone but instead just serve good food,” she said.
Before their removal, Faison and another demonstrator were invited by Schubert to meet at a later date.
"Just so you know, when we’re done with this, I’d like to give you my card so that, when I finish my speech, maybe we can set up a time and you can come down and talk about this,” Schubert said, according to the Black Lives Matter video.
Faison says she will not accept Schubert’s offer, and that other meetings with elected officials have yielded little in the way of results.
Black Lives Matter had been protesting outside Schubert’s office since last April, after police officers shot and killed Stephon Clark in March. Neither Schubert nor her predecessor, Jan Scully, has prosecuted members of law enforcement for fatal shootings.
“We want her to do her job. She shouldn’t have to have a meeting with us for her to do her job,” Faison said.
In a statement, the Women Lawyers of Sacramento wrote on Facebook that its objective is to “facilitate discussion” and that last week’s “peaceful protest contributed towards these goals by revealing a lingering pain in our community.”
Schubert's office would not discuss the incident.
Update: The owners of Lucca say they were told demonstrators might appear outside their restaurant during Schubert's appearance.