(CBS News) — Family and mourners of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was , attended a church funeral Thursday in Sacramento. The Rev. Al Sharpton was tapped to give the eulogy at the inter-faith service for the 22-year-old at the Bayside of South Sacramento church.
Sharpton took the podium to give a rousing speech as the service got underway. He said that the police shooting was not a local issue, despite what White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.
“They have been killing black men all across the country — we are going to start standing up …. it’s time to stop this madness,” Sharpton said.
“We will never forget the name of Stephon Clark until we get justice,” he added. He chanted “I am …” as the crowd replied “Stephon Clark.”
Clark’s wooden, closed casket was positioned front and center at the church. A sash wrapped around the floral bouquet read “Rest in Power”:
Stephon Clark’s brother, Stevante, took the podium earlier to remember his brother and said, “The Clark family will never die.”
Sharpton eulogized Clark and pledged that Clark’s two children will be cared for.
“This is not a sacramental fight anymore, this is a national fight … we all stand for Stephon Clark,” Sharpton said. “We will make Donald Trump and the whole world deal with police misconduct. Stephon Clark has woke up the nation.”
Sharpton added: “When the cameras are gone, we are with him … This brother could be any one of us”:
Also during the service, Clark’s cousin read a poem titled, “I, Too, Have a Dream”:
Clark was known as “Big Poppa” to his family, according to an obituary that was read during the service, and was described as a “giant character” with a “big personality” and “loving spirit.”
“We are not here to pacify, we are here to amplify his voices,” said Omar Suleiman from the Yaqueen Institute. “We will make sure that [Stephon Clark’s] kids grow up knowing there is an entire community that stood behind them.”
The funeral service wrapped up shortly before 2 p.m. local time.
Protests, Reaction To Stephon Clark’s Death
Wednesday, around 50 protesters took over the intersection near the Sacramento district attorney’s office as part of a protest organized by the local Black Lives Matter chapter to urge the district attorney to file charges against the officers who shot him 20 times and killed Clark.
They disrupted midtown rush hour traffic as they marched through the streets. Latavia Ross, pushing her 2-year-old son Jayceon Hurts in a stroller, said she attended the protest because she thinks it’s good for the community to come together to end to gun violence.
Two Sacramento Kings basketball games have been shutdown because of protests, CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas reports. To prevent a third shut down Thursday night, the team has put in 6-foot-tall fences and have steel barricades and metal detectors at the ready.
Tensions remain high in California’s capital city following the March 18 shooting. Two police officers who were responding to a report of someone breaking car windows fatally shot him in his grandparents’ backyard. Police say they believe Clark was the suspect and he ran when a police helicopter responded, then did not obey officers’ orders.
Police say they thought Clark was holding a gun when he moved toward them, but he was found only with a cellphone.
Many mourners weren’t buying that narrative.
“You always feel threatened — you’re a law enforcement officer, it comes with your job title,” said Rahim Wasi. “That doesn’t give you a right to go running around like Clint Eastwood in a movie.”
Some of Clark’s relatives were more conciliatory.
“We’re not mad at all the law enforcement. We’re not trying to start a riot,” said Shernita Crosby, Stephon Clark’s aunt. “What we want the world to know is that we got to stop this because black lives matter.”
Cousin Suzette Clark said the family wants Stephon Clark remembered as “more than just a hashtag.”
He was outgoing, funny, loving, a good-looking man who liked to dress sharp and the doting father of two young sons.
“He made some mistakes in his life, but he was genuinely a good person,” she said.
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