Four years ago, Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento police in Meadowview, and the demonstrators filled the streets with shouts of “Say his name.” Now, every year on the anniversary of his death, the Clark family remembers his life and calls for justice for all families who’ve lost loved ones to police violence.
“As we approach the fourth anniversary of the senseless death of my son, Stephon, I am feeling hopeful, I’m feeling peaceful,” Sequette Clark, Stephon’s mother said. She paused and then added, “And I wanna say … calm.”
This year includes a march at the California state Capitol at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 18, the date Stephon Clark was killed.
Sequette Clark says looking back on these past four years without her younger son, she still sees his presence and feels his energy in the work the family has been doing.
“Stephon was always larger than life, so I believe he’s in heaven, looking down, saying finally. Finally, they get it,” she said. “Stephon always brought the family together, before he was killed, and even more so after. I definitely believe that as a result of the death of my son, my family has found a platform to do the things that we’ve always done, just on a grander scale.”
After Stephon’s death, his older brother, Stevante, created the I Am SAC Foundation to honor his brother’s legacy. He’s been leading the effort to keep his brother’s memory alive. Exactly one year ago this week, Clark’s family and friends came together to dedicate Stephon’s House, a community center for Black youth.
“The goal is to implement Stephon Houses all across the nation. For Stephon Houses to be implemented under George Floyd Houses, Breonna Taylor Houses, Mike Brown Houses, Trayvon Martin Houses,” Stevante Clark said.
Stevante stepped down from leading the foundation in 2020, saying that he needed a break to heal himself. The change came a month after allegations of domestic violence and harassment of volunteers, which he denies.
This year is the first in which the Clark family will be joining with the families of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis, Botham Jean, killed in Dallas, and Oscar Grant, killed in Oakland, to march at California’s state Capitol.
“You see, I think we’ve done really well when it comes to the life and legacy of Stephon Clark,” Stevante said. “But when it comes to preventing Stephons from ever happening again, I think there’s something I’m not doing. And during this four year anniversary, that’s all I’ve been thinking about is how do I bring families together so we can prevent and lower these numbers.”
Other activists say on this fourth anniversary, they’re also feeling more determined. Reverend Tecoy Porter is the pastor at Genesis Church in Meadowview. He remembers March 18, 2018, vividly, as Stephon was shot just a block away from his church.
“Well four years ago, you know, I say the world came to Meadowview. And there was a lot of pain, lot of tragedy, but we have really come out of that, I’d say better,” Porter said. “Meadowview has healed even though the family still has not really received justice.”
Since Clark was killed, a bill has been signed into law preventing police from using deadly force unless deemed necessary to save a life. It’s called Stephon Clark’s Law. But Porter said many in the Meadowview community are still disappointed the officers involved in Stephon’s death remain employed by the Sacramento Police Department.
Sonia Lewis is an organizer and close friend of the Clark family. She also feels there’s work to be done.
“What I’m impressed about is the spirit and tenacity of folks who do show up, even if they’re new to this landscape of organizing,” Lewis said of the way many activists and organizers came forward after Clark’s death.
“But from a standpoint of looking at it from ‘has the city, county and state of California done enough to make changes?’ No, I think it’s still performative,” she said.
The Clark family says they’ll continue to hold marches to honor Stephon until there’s justice for people who are killed by police violence. Later this summer, a new playground will be dedicated in Meadowview in his honor. His mother, Sequette, says that way, every day, people will say his name.
The march at the state Capitol will take place on Friday, March 18, beginning at 10 a.m.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized Stevante Clark's reasons for leaving the I Am SAC Foundation. It has been corrected.
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