UPDATE 9:26 p.m. (updated with quotes from Sacramento police) —
Protesters blocked downtown Sacramento streets and rallied in front of the main county jail after two women were forcibly arrested by police on Thursday.
The arrests occurred outside the district attorney’s offices, where demonstrators have gathered regularly to protest Stephon Clark’s death and demand that the officers be held accountable.
Both police and protesters say officers used force, but there are differing accounts of the extent or the reasons.
A police spokesperson says that protesters surrounded a woman in a vehicle, and the crowd was given an order to disperse.
"A large, hostile crowd gathered around her vehicle and some people in this crowd jumped on her vehicle, and our officers moved in to give some disperal orders," said Sgt. Vance Chandler, a spokesperson for the Sacramento Police Department. "They gave numerous dispersal orders and during that time there were two people that were arrested because they basically refused to disperse during that time."
Protesters dispute that account.
“The DA’s police helped her out, and they were able to handle that without Sac PD,” said Tanya Faison, founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento. “Sac PD came in later, and that’s when they got violent.”
A video taken by one of the protesters shows police pushing demonstrators over with bicycles. Faison says officers then struck protesters with Tasers, fists and a baton while making the arrests.
“We’re peaceful protesters. We didn’t make violent gestures, none of that. They just came over and started hitting us and tasing us,” said one of the protest leaders, Brrazey Liberty of Black Lives Matter.
Chandler says an officer used a Taser to ward off the crowd, but he did not immediately know whether it had made contact nor what, if any, other measures officers used.
After the arrests, police formed a line to block protesters from the back entrance to the district attorney’s offices before ultimately leaving.
About 30 demonstrators eventually moved downtown to the jail, blocking streets en route. They held signs up to the windows of the jail, chanted and sang, as the crowd grew in size.
At one point, protesters blocked cars on I Street. Police lined up across Seventh Street and told them over megaphones to disperse.
Ultimately, the protests moved back to the front of the jail.
Demonstrators brought in PA speakers and Faison talked of ordering food, while they waited for the two arrested women to be released.
“We’re going to make this more celebratory, and we’re going to occupy this space,” Faison said.
Sacramento police arrested two demonstrators at Thursday’s Stephon Clark protest in downtown Sacramento.
The arrests occurred outside the district attorney’s offices, where demonstrators have gathered regularly to protest Clark’s death and demand that the officers be held accountable.
A police spokesperson says that protesters surrounded a woman in a vehicle when the crowd was given an order to disperse. “She was basically trapped,” the spokesperson said.
But activists say the individuals who were arrested — Melissa Price and Ebony Harper, according to local Black Lives Matter chapter founder Tanya Faison — did nothing wrong.
Faison disputed the police's version of the events and said the woman had been out of her vehicle for 15 minutes or more before police used force, which she said included fists and a Taser.
Price and Harper were arrested for failure to disperse, according to the police spokesperson.
David Andre, a volunteer activist who was at the demonstration, told Capital Public Radio that there were about 100 protesters, and that he witnessed individuals detained by law enforcement.
“The police took out their batons and used their bicycles to push back peaceful protesters,” said Andre, who added that he witnessed a woman Tased by an officer.
Police could not immediately confirm or deny reports of use-of-force during the arrests.
Demonstrators marched from the DA's office to the county jail, where they said they would remain until Price and Harper were released.
Follow this story for updates.
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