Demonstrators blocked an interstate highway in Sacramento, Calif. on Thursday afternoon as they protested the city’s latest police shooting of an unarmed black man.
Hundreds of protesters chanted, “It’s a phone, not a gun!” in reference to the killing last Sunday night of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, a father of two who was shot 20 times by two police officers while standing in the backyard of his grandparents’ home, where he’d been staying.
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The shooting followed reports of several car break-ins in the area and helicopter footage showed thermal images of the victim running through backyards and hopping fences in the moments before he was killed.
Video of the shooting was released Wednesday, showing the officers yelling, “Show us your hands! Gun! Gun! Gun!” moments before they began firing their weapons at Clark.
The officers, who have been placed on paid leave as authorities investigate the killing, claim that they thought Clark was approaching them with a gun, but a cell phone was the only object found at the scene.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento rallied the protesters at City Hall, with many carrying signs reading, “Stop Killing Us.” After marching down Interstate 5, the demonstrators gathered outside Golden 1 Center, the city’s sports arena where the Sacramento Kings NBA team was preparing to play against the Atlanta Hawks.
Officials placed the arena in lockdown as the protesters linked arms at the entrance, blocking many ticket-holders from watching the game.
Following the game, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé gathered the team on the court to express solidarity with the protesters, despite the disruption of the event.
“We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform,” he told the crowd. “We stand here before you, old, you, black, white, brown, and we are all united in our commitment. We recognize that it’s not just business as usual and we are gonna work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place starting with our own community, and we’re going to work really hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”