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Six months after Stephon Clark's death, Black Lives Matter protesters climb into makeshift coffins outside police conference

Six months after Stephon Clark's death, Black Lives Matter protesters climb into makeshift coffins outside police conference
Stevante Clark, left, the brother of Sacramento police shooting victim Stephon Clark, stands among makeshift caskets during a Black Lives Matter demonstration outside the Sacramento Convention Center, where a law enforcement conference is being held. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

They laid dozens of makeshift coffins in the street to represent black people killed by police in California. Blocking traffic, the protesters climbed inside the purple caskets and each raised a fist in the air.

The spectacle was part of an hours-long Black Lives Matter protest Tuesday commemorating the sixth-month anniversary of the death of Stephon Clark, who was fatally shot by Sacramento police March 18 outside his grandparents’ home during a vandalism investigation.

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Protesters marched and chanted outside the downtown Sacramento Convention Center, where a California Peace Officers’ Assn. training conference was underway.

“We are here to make sure that they know that we know that their training is terroristic,” said a demonstrator who tweeted a video from the protest.

Sacramento Police Sgt. Vance Chandler said Tuesday afternoon that extra officers had been monitoring the gathering since 11 a.m. When the group placed the makeshift caskets in the street, Chandler said, police issued numerous dispersal orders and brought in pastors to help move the group.

Eventually, the protesters moved to the sidewalk, Chandler said. Later, the group marched back into the street and police issued new dispersal orders. As of about 3:30 p.m., no one had been arrested and no injuries had been reported, Chandler said.

The demonstration comes at a tense time for law enforcement officers in the region. A day earlier, a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy was killed and a second was wounded when a gunman opened fire during a routine disturbance call at an auto shop in Rancho Cordova.

The deputies responded to a Pep Boys store, where workers were having a conflict with a customer. As they approached, the suspect — identified as Anton Lemon Moore, 38, of Rancho Cordova — turned as if to run away but spun around and began firing.

The slain officer was identified as Mark Stasyuk, 27, who joined the department more than four years ago. A second officer, identified as Julie Robertson, 28, was struck in the arm but shot back as the attacker fled.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Stasyuk, 27, was killed after a man opened fire at a Rancho Cordova auto shop.
Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Stasyuk, 27, was killed after a man opened fire at a Rancho Cordova auto shop. (Sacramento County Sheriff's Department)

Robertson and a bystander who was hit in the crossfire were released from the hospital Tuesday, sheriff's Sgt. Shaun Hampton said.

Moore remains hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds and is expected to survive.

After announcing Stasyuk’s death at a news conference Monday, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones mentioned Tuesday’s protest and urged community support for law enforcement officials.

“I know people have this overwhelming urge to do what they can and not knowing what to do,” Jones said. “One of the things you can do is go down there, go down to the convention center tomorrow between 11 and 1 and show your support for law enforcement while they continue to protest law enforcement.”

The Sacramento Bee reported that a cluster of counter-demonstrators gathered at the rally, including Robert Dixon of Granite Bay, who wore a flag shirt and carried an American flag and a “God Bless the police” sign.

“I’m out here to support the police,” Dixon told the Bee, while others with “Back the Blue” signs and blue American flags surrounded him. “God bless the police. This is un-American out here, we don’t need this.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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