Two years after his brother’s death, Stevante Clark says his pain still fuels his fight for a more equitable Sacramento.
The 27-year-old first took the megaphone in March 2018, when Sacramento police shot and killed his 22-year-old brother Stephon Clark in their grandmother’s backyard. Since then, Clark has experienced breakdowns, ongoing grief and healing.
Last weekend, as standoffs between demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd and law enforcement seemed to be ramping up, Clark again emerged as a leader.
“I'm my brother's keeper,” he said during a CapRadio-hosted Facebook Live event Wednesday. “At the end of the day, I'm just a voice and a vessel for the legacy of Stephon Clark … and I’m hurtin’ still, but I'm praying for a better tomorrow.”
On Monday night, just before a citywide curfew was scheduled to take effect, Clark stepped forward in a wide-brimmed hat and slick black blazer to peacefully lead the crowd of hundreds. A button with his brother’s face on it glinted from his lapel.
They knelt in a moment of silence for Floyd, the man killed by Minneapolis Police, and collectively decried the window smashing, spray painting, furniture burning and theft that occurred after nightfall in the early days of demonstrations.
“If you are disrespecting the legacy of George Floyd, you are disrespecting the legacy of my brother Stephon Clark,” he said to the crowd.
Clark said he felt compelled to bring organization to the protests.
“I saw them wandering around and I said numerous times, passion with no direction is chaos,” he said. “Now that I’ve turned my pain to passion and my passion is directed, I’m able to fulfill my purpose on an entire higher level … the killing of my brother is where that passion came from. My pain lit that fire.”
For the past two nights, Clark has led the main group back to Cesar Chavez Plaza to talk about racism and police accountability. Though people have been out past the 8 p.m. curfew, law enforcement has largely let them be. In prior nights, officers used rubber bullets, tear gas and other tactics to disperse the crowds.
Clark said he didn’t confer with law enforcement about keeping the peace prior to the Monday night demonstrations. He says he doesn’t condone the actions of people who are stealing and destroying property.
“We need to organize, strategize, mobilize,” he said. “I’m looking at the young people who are really trying to make a difference.”
He says black youth should not have to face the injustices he currently sees in Sacramento. It’s why he’s calling for de-escalation tactical teams in law enforcement and more investment in low-income communities of color.
“These gardens, these farmers’ markets, when it comes to what we’re doing this is going to be for generations and generations and generations,” he said. “There’s no reason our kids should suffer.
Clark is also calling for the resignation of Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who led the investigation into his brother’s death. The two officers who shot Stephon Clark were invited back to the force.
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