Elected officials are not the only people being confronted by protesters in public spaces. One of the police officers involved in the fatal shooting of young black father Stephon Clark received a rude awakening on his wedding day.
Although the names of all the officers involved in the March 18 shooting have not been made public, Black Lives Matter protesters were able to find and crash one of the cop's weddings. According to The Root, the officer was in a room with his groomsmen prior to the start of the ceremony when protesters rushed in.
In footage taken of the ordeal, one voice can be heard shouting, "You're a murderer!" while another inquired: "I just wonder if you started planning your wedding before you killed Stephon Clark or after? How have you been sleeping since March 18?”
Black Lives Matter had been planning the demonstration since finding the officer's wedding website, which included information about the venue.
“I think they need to be approached in spaces where they’re a little more vulnerable,” said Sacramento Black Lives Matter founder Tanya Faison. “We’re not violent, we’re not gonna give to them what they brought to our community, we’re not gonna hurt anyone but we are gonna make them uncomfortable, and they should be because someone is dead.”
While Faison brushed off the notion that their demonstration was too invasive, some local community members expressed concern over their methods.
“As a black man in the community, I’m concerned whenever there’s injustice on any black person, certainly there’s a right to protest, but I think there are limits when to protest in a public place and the right of privacy for your wedding,” Michael Keeley said.
Additionally, department officials claim that since the shooting, officers have needed extra security of their own upon receiving death threats.
"People may think that these officers are just going about their lives, but this is a very traumatic event for everyone,” Sgt. Vance Chandler said.
He added: “I feel that our department has handled demonstrations and protests very well and we have taken great effort’s to allow people to exercise their First Amendment rights, but on this one what is the purpose of this?”
Faison's own words regarding the demonstration serve as an answer to Chandler's question: “Stephon Clark’s family is still mourning and suffering. He doesn’t get to be with his kids, or get married.”
Timothy Davis, president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association, issued a statement on behalf of the officers.
"The SPOA supports transparency within our Police Department. Transparency brings trust. Trust between our officers and the citizens they protect is an important aspect of a safe community. Our police officers are members of this community. They raise their families here. The send their children to schools here. They live their lives as a part of this community.
Transparency comes with responsibility. Officers deserve to be free from harassment by individuals seeking their own forms of justice. True accountability can only come from our impartial judicial system and from our elected government.
The SPOA will continue to advocate for transparency and thoughtful improvements in police policies, but we request the respect of our community. Give our officers the ability to safely raise their families alongside you."
Perhaps the social justice organization's tactics were extreme, but the situation at hand is also extreme. Minority communities, particularly African-Americans, are witnessing injustice after injustice as officers get off scot-free after killing unarmed civilians.
Clark was killed in March, yet none of the officers involved have been indicted, and there is no telling if they ever will be. By the way things are going, the pattern our society has grown accustomed to is about to repeat itself once again. The protesters are simply doing everything in their power to make sure it doesn't.
If they didn't take these drastic measures, people would move on from the issue and forget about the life that was senselessly stolen, which would inadvertently allow the department to get away with sweeping it under the rug and not holding the officers involved accountable.
Activists are realizing that they must be louder and bolder in order to truly be heard, and this action in Sacramento is a reflection of that epiphany.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu/Pool via Reuters