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Sacramento residents may have been outraged at the apparent murder of Stephon Clark this week, but it’s likely that the egregious police shooting of the unarmed Black father of two wasn’t all that surprising to them at all. As a matter of sad fact, the 20 shots officers fired at Clark, who was hit in his back, were just the latest instance of police brutality against Black people by the Sacramento Police Department, reports show.

Clark, 22, was shot in his grandmother’s backyard after officers yelled he had a gun on Sunday night. Police would later find out Clark only had a cellphone in his hand, and no gun or weapon was recovered from the scene.

Civil rights leaders were quick to condemn the obvious case of police brutality in which race undoubtedly played a role, although it’s all but a foregone conclusion that the officers who shot Clark will claim they feared for their lives.

“It is an atrocity that an unarmed young man was shot at twenty times in his own backyard and shows the urgent need in these times for intervention against police misconduct,” the Rev. Al Sharpton announced through his National Action Network civil rights organization. “We will call for a complete and thorough investigation into this young man’s death.”

Black Lives Matter Sacramento claimed police tried to cover up the shooting and “changed their story four times” within the first 48 hours.
The shooting took place one day after the Sacramento Bee reported that the same Black Lives Matter chapter planned to start a “Copwatch” program: “an organized effort in which participants videotape and otherwise document police activity in a community.”

The grassroots initiative was largely in response to last year’s police beating of a jaywalker in Sacramento that was captured on film and has resulted in the victim suing the city for the abuse he says he suffered by police and jail staff after he was arrested for the alleged civil violation (read: not a crime).

A subsequent report found that Sacramento police disproportionately ticketed Black people for jaywalking, leading to accusations of racial profiling in a city that is less than 10% Black.

That report followed Sacramento police successfully shooting to kill a mentally ill man who had a pocketknife in 2016.

“We are tired of Sacramento law enforcement killing us!” Black Lives Matter Sacramento wrote on its Facebook page announcing the Thursday protest. “We are tired of talking and meeting and sitting trying to convince our elected officials that there needs to be change!”

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