Two days after Sacramento police arrested 84 people — including Black Lives Matter members, students, local religious leaders and two journalists — Mayor Darrell Steinberg says “something went wrong” and that the outcome at the demonstration “obviously sets us back.”
“I’m very concerned and troubled by what happened on Monday night,” Steinberg said on Wednesday. “Those demonstrators were out there to have their voices heard. As far as I could tell, it was a peaceful protest.”
The mayor spoke with CapRadio the morning after an emotional and anger-filled city council meeting, where members of the public grieved openly over decisions by the district attorney and state attorney general not to charge the two officers who killed Stephon Clark, and expressed outrage toward elected leaders.
The mayor said he was accountable for police actions during Monday night’s demonstration in East Sacramento, but stopped short of an apology for 84 arrests.
“I certainly think they are owed an explanation. And, ultimately, if the facts bear out that there was a better way to handle this — and, you know, honestly I think that's possible — then, yes, they are. But let’s get the facts.”
Demonstrators took to East Sacramento on Monday night in response to District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s decision not to charge Jared Robinet and Terrance Mercadal, the two Sacramento police officers who fatally shot Clark in March of last year.
People who marched through neighborhoods that night, including the wealthy “Fab 40s”, claim the protest went off without violence or vandalism, and on Wednesday the mayor agreed that “it was a peaceful protest.” But 84 people were arrested just after 10 p.m. while walking on a Highway 50 overpass.
A police spokesman said early Tuesday morning that during the protest cars were vandalized with keys along the route of the marchers, which led to the arrests.
The department has launched its own investigation into police actions during the demonstration, and the mayor has said the city is conducting its own independent look at what happened.
On Tuesday night, Chief of Police Daniel Hahn said he hopes to return to city council in a couple weeks to discuss his officers tactics.
“I'd be a little remiss if I tried to guess at what the facts are right now,” Hahn said. “Obviously, as you all know, and all of you have brought up, we did have a few media folks arrested in that large group and that is definitely unusual for our city.”
The mayor also said that he did not want to “pre-judge” what happened on Monday night.
“We can either retreat, or we can take this setback and try even harder to elevate all of our games,” Steinberg said.