Hundreds of mourners gathered to honor the young man shot dead by police.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. ― Hundreds of mourners gathered in California’s capital on Thursday, to honor the life of 22-year-old Stephon Clark ― an unarmed black man shot and killed by police.
Two Sacramento police fatally shot Clark, a father of two, on March 18 outside of his grandparents’ home after neighbors had called police to investigate someone hiding in one of their backyards. Footage from both police body cameras and helicopter coverage showed that the officers mistook Clark’s cell phone for a gun, and proceeded to open fire. Clark was shot 20 times.
On Thursday morning, Clark’s funeral in south Sacramento was held open to the public.
Long before the funeral was set to begin, mourners had already lined up down the block of the Bayside of South Sacramento Church. Some of the attendees had driven hours to attend the funeral. Many of those in line were Muslim, coming to pay their respects to a fellow member of their religious community.
In a funeral program, Clark was described as a young man who loved sports, had a “great sense of humor” and was the “life of the party.”
As the funeral began just before noon, several religious leaders took the podium to read from Christian scripture, the Old Testament and the Quran.
“Only Stephon could bring together all races and religions in one room,” one speaker said.
At one point, a speaker was interrupted by Clark’s brother Stevante, who took to the podium and in an emotional call to the crowd, yelled: “I am!”
“Stephon Clark!” the mourners yelled back.
As Rev. Al Sharpton took the stage to deliver his eulogy, he began by repeating Stevante’s call: “I am!”
“We will never let you forget the name of Stephon Clark until we get justice,” Sharpton said. “Because this brother could be any one of us.”
Sharpton had told reporters ahead of the service that the country should think of Clark’s killing as a national issue, not a local one.
“The community has come together to say that we cannot have unarmed people shot by the people we trust to protect and serve,” Sharpton continued. “Look at what we’ve seen all over the country. The president needs to address it. Congress needs to address it.”
“We need to deal with this issue and deal with it nationally,” he added.