Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist and former adviser to President Barack Obama, called out President Donald Trump on Thursday for his silence following the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark this month.
“He has not said anything about this,” Sharpton said. “Trump should speak out and there should be policy.”
Sharpton, an MSNBC talk-show host, spoke to The Sacramento Bee shortly before a packed funeral for Clark, who died after being shot March 18 by two Sacramento police officers in the backyard of his grandparents’ home. Police responded after a neighbor called 911 to report broken car windows.Sharpton came Thursday to Sacramento to give the eulogy for the service, held at the Bayside of South Sacramento Church, where Clark’s grandmother attends services.
“We will never let you forget the name of Stephon Clark until we get justice,” Sharpton told attendees.
Sharpton’s response comes a day after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Clark shooting was a “terrible incident” but one that local police should handle.
“It’s not a local matter,” Sharpton said in response to Sanders’ comments, pointing to the decision by Louisiana officials on Tuesday to not charge two Baton Rouge officers in the fatal 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling.
Sharpton advocated for an independent federal prosecutor to investigate police shootings across the country and “clear federal laws about police use of force that supersede all these state laws.”
He added that local community members should ask candidates this election year about where they stand on police shootings.
Sharpton spoke with Clark’s mother the day after the shooting and watched the body-camera videos that were released by the department three days later, he said.
“We came to support the local activists that have been dealing with these issues for a long time,” he said.
When asked about protesters closing Golden 1 Center and preventing thousands of fans from attending Sacramento Kings games, he said “people express their protests in different ways.”
“The only violence that has happened in the Stephon Clark situation has been the police shooting,” he said.
In an MSNBC appearance Thursday morning, Sharpton wondered why officers felt they had to corner and shoot Clark when a helicopter was tracking his movements overhead.
Law enforcement experts said this week that each decision to shoot a suspect is challenging — and one many critics never have had to make.
“I was involved in numerous officer-involved shootings and they’re very intense situations,” said Sacramento police Sgt. Vance Chandler, a department spokesman and 12-year veteran of the SWAT team who has seen a number of protests. “Each one is unique. You don’t have time to think or react to information …
Speaking to the Bee, Sharpton, questioned the officers’ muting of their body-worn camera microphones in the minutes after the shooting. He also said that it remains unknown whether Clark was the man reported by a neighbor breaking car windows.
Sacramento Police Department Chief Daniel Hahn said last week that he believed Clark was the one who prompted the neighbor’s call, though he said “you can’t say factually it was him yet.”
“That’s why we have the courts,” Sharpton said. “This young man has two children. He has a family.”
He also pointed out that one of the officers who fired his gun at Clark was not white.
“This is not about white and black,” he said. “This is about right and wrong.”
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