Holding signs with messages such as “Shut it down!” as they converged arm-in-arm outside the Sacramento Kings’ home arena, hundreds of protesters demonstrated this week’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black man before the Kings’ game with the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.
The massive crowd shut down nearby freeways and gathered in the surrounding streets to protest the police shooting of Stephon Clark, who was unarmed and in the backyard of his grandparents’ house Sunday night. According to reports, police shot at Clark 20 times.
The protest delayed the game for 19 minutes while dozens of police attempted to clear entrances outside of Golden1 Center, where protesters formed a human chain blocking fans trying to attend the game and surrounded main entrances to the arena, before spectators eventually began to trickle in. There was shouting but no apparent violence as frustrated fans waited outside.
Only a few hundred fans made it into the Golden1 Center before police decided to not allow anyone else to enter. Several of those who did get in moved down into the lower bowl of the arena, leaving the upper deck empty. Those fans were also given a free non-alcoholic beverage.
Protesters decrying this week’s fatal Sacramento police shooting of an unarmed black man formed a human chain blocking fans trying to get into the Golden1 Center for Thursday’s Hawks-Kings game. Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports
The Kings later issued a statement regarding potential refunds for those fans who were unable to get inside.
“Tonight’s game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive addressed the crowd after the game, expressing sympathies to Clark’s family and recognizing the franchise’s role as a community leader.
“We recognize that it’s not just business as usual and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place starting with our community,” Ranadive, surrounded by Kings players on the court, told the crowd. “We’re going to work really hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”
Kings owner and chairman @Vivek addresses the crowd following tonight’s game. pic.twitter.com/Tm3YCZhFh0
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) March 23, 2018
The protesters earlier marched from Sacramento City Hall and onto a nearby freeway, disrupting rush-hour traffic and holding signs with messages like “Sac PD: Stop killing us!”
The 22-year-old Clark was shot Sunday. Police say they feared he had a handgun when they confronted him after reports that he had been breaking windows. But police found only a cellphone. .
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.