The mayor of Sacramento, California said he wants answers about what happened during a Monday night protest that led to the arrest of 84 people, including clergy, local media reported.
According to the newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office said it was planning to discuss the matter during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
The mass arrests took place during a protest over the March 2018 police shooting of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man.
Over the weekend, the city’s district attorney announced she would not prosecute the two city police officers involved in the shooting, angering the local community. The officers said they thought the father of two had a gun, but he was holding a mobile phone. He was shot more than 20 times in his grandmother’s backyard.
Dozens of people staged Monday’s march in a wealthy area of the city. After about 2.5 hours, police ordered protesters to disperse.
Police handcuffed at least three clergy members and Bee reporter Dale Kasler, who was covering the demonstration, the newspaper reported.
Kasler’s hands were twist-tied and he was led away as other reporters shouted that he was a member of the media on assignment, the Bee said. He was standing with several protesters when he was detained, the newspaper reported. The reporter was released after he had been held for an hour, the newspaper said. At least two other local reporters said they were detained.
“I’m very disappointed that the protest ended the way it did,” Steinberg tweeted on Monday.
“I have many questions about what caused the order to disperse and the subsequent arrests. I will withhold further comment until I get answers to these crucial questions tonight or tomorrow morning,” he said. “No matter the reason, an order to disperse was given, no member of the press should be detained for doing their job.”
Sacramento Police Capital Norm Leong tweeted that police began moving closer to the protest group after “seeing cars getting keyed”.
Late on Monday, he tweeted, “Ended up with 80 plus arrests. Still processing it all.”
On Tuesday, the city’s attorney general was expected to give the results of an independent investigation of the shooting.
Clark’s killing set off a wave of demonstrations from Sacramento to New York City, reigniting calls to end what many call the systemic racism among US police forces.
Last April, an activist suffered minor injuries after the protester was hit by a Sacramento Sheriff’s vehicle during a march calling for justice for Clark.
Online, many condemned the police’s actions on Monday.
Sharing a post about the arrest, Ernest Owens tweeted, “But still no convictions for the cops who actually murdered Stephon Clark. A damn shame. Public dollars wasted silencing protesters than actually protecting the Black bodies they are protesting for.”
But still no convictions for the cops who actually murdered Stephon Clark. A damn shame. Public dollars wasted silencing protestors than actually protecting the Black bodies they are protesting for. #justiceforstephonclark https://t.co/6hf94dVVLF
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) March 5, 2019
Others accused the police of trapping and then arresting them.
“Peaceful protesters … were manipulated into their arrest after they were corralled by the police’s threats of death and then arrested for failure to disburse at the 51st Street overpass in Sacramento,” one user tweeted.
Peaceful protesters, marching against the ruling on the Stephon Clark shooting, were manipulated into their arrest after they were corralled by the police’s threats of death and then arrested for failure to disburse at the 51st street overpass in Sacramento. pic.twitter.com/U6Y0fK3spS
— Dust Bunnys (@DustBunnyss) March 5, 2019
Reverend Shane Harris, who represents Clark’s fiancee and was arrested on Monday, told The Sacramento Bee that police “cornered everybody purposely”.
“This is why people in this town are sick and tired of police,” he was quoted as saying.
Monday’s protest comes amid years of national outrage over what activists and others call institutionalised racism among US police.
Nearly a quarter of those killed in 2016 were African Americans although the group accounts for only roughly 12 percent of the total US population.
These disparities, particularly the killing of African Americans by police, has prompted the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, a popular civil rights movement aimed at ending police violence and dismantling structural racism.