Passions ignite protests in Downtown Sacramento

Downtown Sacramento has erupted in peaceful protests over the past two weeks in the wake of the shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed African American male in Sacramento on March 18.

Reaction to the seemingly unprovoked death of an unarmed man has brought the issue of police violence and response to the forefront of the community.

“There have been so many problems of police brutality recently,” said Keona Tanon, a 22-year-old nursing major. “People are starting to take notice and are starting to wake up and realize this is an actual problem.”

Many students agree and feel as though the protests were a foregone conclusion to our current issues and the response provided by state and government agencies involved.

“It’s just been coming to this,” said Nelisha Kamal, a 21-year-old biology major. “There’s been a lot of police shootings and nothing has been done.”

The issues at hand feel very personal to many.

“It’s really personal. My younger brother is a young black man, he occasionally comes in through the back door, it could have easily been him,” says 22-year-old sociology major Lakea Huel, adding “I think the protest is a good catalyst to keep people talking.”

However there are many viewpoints as to where the blame of the failures of the police officers lies. A 22-year-old chemistry major Sean Ha said “I feel like they should practice these scenarios more and be able to react appropriately,” Kamal said. “I think the police could be educated more.”

“I believe the reason why cops are constantly shooting black men are out of fear,” said Onome Akhidenor, a 21-year-old communications major. “The blacker they are, the bigger they are, the more fear cops have for them.” Whatever the reason, the rise in police shootings has led to a shift in view toward law enforcement in some communities.

“I’ve grown not to like cops anymore,” said Akhidenor.

The downtown protests, which have been ongoing for the past few days, have gained nationwide coverage, shedding light on issues that the Sacramento community said are important and have gone unaddressed for too long.

Ayotunde Khyree Ikuku, a 21-year-old veterinary technician and member of Black Lives Matter Sacramento Chapter, was involved in many of the protests.

“Our protests have been extremely effective! Since our first protest, we shut down the Sacramento Kings game and that got international news,” said Ikuku. “Not only did it get international news, it gave space for the Kings to express that they felt the same exact way.”

Many feel that peaceful protest is necessary but doubt there will be much palatable outcome. “We need more accountability,” said Huel.

Video was filmed by staff writer Lisa Wilson.