Letter Back Home: Sacramento, CA

Dear Sacramento,

 

On March 18th, police fired 20 shots at 22-year-old Stephon Clark “fearing for their lives” after responding to reports of a man with a “tool bar” damaging car windows. The unarmed Stephon Clark was murdered in his grandmother’s backyard with only a cell phone being found on his body. He was shot 8 times with most of the bullets hitting him in the back. No human being, innocent or guilty of any suspected crime, should be submitted to a less than 10-second-long trial consisting of only the words, “Show me your hands!” immediately followed by twenty gunshots and then death. The people of Sacramento understand this and have stood up for what is right over the course of the past few weeks. So I am proud of you, Sacramento. I am proud of you for yearning for justice and fighting to find solutions to the problems facing black Americans today.

 

Vivek Ranadive addresses the Golden 1 Center Crowd on March 22nd. // Credit: Rich Pedroncelli (AP)

I am also proud of the Sacramento Kings. Despite protesters essentially cutting off entry to the Golden 1 Center multiple times in the past week, the Kings have expressed their strong support for those protesting Clark’s death and have worked with protesters at the arena to find common ground. Yesterday, the Kings announced a new partnership with the Build. Black. Coalition and Black Lives Matter Sacramento to invest in the lives of black youth in Sacramento. The Kings’ owner, Vivek Ranadive, is the only other NBA owner of color besides Michael Jordan, and he put forth a strong message on Thursday, March 22nd after protesters prevented fans from attending the game was strong. He recognized the Kings’ platform as a “privilege and a responsibility” that he wants to use to unite the community and make the world a better place, starting with Sacramento.

 

Of course, there is a lot of work to be done here. I am not proud of the Sacramento Police department, who like many other police organizations have a history of racial discrimination. Sacramento should never have been in the news in the first place, and Stephon Clark should still be alive. I disagree with some of the ways in which protesters have disrupted the daily lives of people, such as blocking a major interstate freeway. I, along with many others including the brother of Stephon Clark, disagree with some protesters’ decision to prevent fans’ entry into the Golden 1 Center as I believe this is a distraction from the problem at hand and they are hurting an institution which wholeheartedly supports their cause. However, I believe there is a lot of good work being done right now, and as unfortunate as it is, this tragedy has brought the issue of black lives and police brutality back into the national spotlight where is must remain if it is to actually ever change.

Black Lives Matter protesters block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center during a demonstration on March 22. // Credit: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

I am proud of Sacramento for the way in which most of the city has dealt with the tragic death of Stephon Clark, but I am also proud of my city for many other reasons. I am proud of Greta Gerwig for being an excellent example of how women can thrive in industries predominantly run by men, and I am proud of Lady Bird for showing off the city I love to the rest of the world. I am proud of the students of Sacramento and everyone who “Marched for Our Lives” in Sacramento on March 24th. I am proud of Mayor Darrell Steinberg for standing up to Jeff Sessions on immigration in the light of the Attorney General’s visit to Sacramento and for fighting for the fair and dignified treatment of all human beings by the government and immigration officials.

 

Thank you, Sacramento, for consistently standing up for what is right and resisting intolerance. Thank you for having a heart and always fighting for human life and dignity. We are not a perfect city, but I have hope for our future, and I believe that we can and will continue to work together to make Sacramento a better place. We also have the only team in the NBA who has beaten the Golden State Warriors twice in the Warrior’s own arena this year, and that is a pretty good place to start.

 

Love,

Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan