Unarmed man shot and killed in grandparent’s backyard

Erica McKinnon

On March 18, Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African-American male, was killed by Sacramento police officers in his grandparent’s backyard. 

The young son, father and friend was shot 20 times because his cell phone was mistaken for a gun, and to make matters worse, police officers still handcuffed him after he had been shot. 

When headlines surfaced on social media, my heart immediately sank because this story happens way too often — an unarmed black man is killed execution-style based on a careless mistake. 

The question is: Was it really a mistake that Clark was shot 20 times? When a person is shot 20 times, that means the shooter wants to make sure the person they are targeting is killed and remains killed. 

“And, nearly four years later after the death of Michael Brown sparked the rise of Black Lives Matter and brought more attention to racial disparities in police shootings,” according to Vox.com. “The Clark case serves as a stark reminder that even as national attention has waned, unarmed black men and women continue to experience deadly encounters with police officers.” 

The Clark case is a reminder to both African-American men and women that this tragedy can happen to anyone, and the amount of stress and paranoia it creates for the average 20-something year old is extremely intimidating. 

Gun violence is at an all-time high, where students from the Parkland shooting organized and protested at the “March for Our Lives” match in Washington, D.C, and made history. 

We must hold police officers accountable who demonstrate police brutality that results in gun violence so there are no more mistakes made. 

In order for that to happen, we must first show compassion to innocent men like Clark. 

“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time in his own backyard?” Sequita Thompson, Clark’s grandmother, said to the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday, according to Vox.com. 

Thompson recounts the night her grandson was killed in an interview posted by the Sacramento Bee, pointing to the exact spot he was killed trying her best to hold back tears. “They took him. They took him, those two officers they’re going to reap what they sow. You’re going to get it for taking him out of this world for nothing. For nothing,” Thompson said painfully while describing what happened to her grandson. 

There are many grandmothers, mothers, loved ones and friends who feel the same pain of getting someone they love stripped from them due to police gun violence. 

What needs to be put into perspective is the fear killing unarmed black men and women instills in black youth. 

Clark was 22 and black and I am 23 and black, so does that mean I have to think twice about carrying my cell phone, just in case it gets mistaken for a gun? 

What about the fear African-American men and women constantly feel when they are presumably seen as a threat? 

What about the fear African-American men and women feel when they must put away anything that could assumed to be a concealed weapon, whether that be a cell phone, a toy gun or a bag of Skittles? What about the fear African-American men and women feel simply because they are black?

Clark was a member of a family and a father of two children. Clark was an unarmed black man. He was a human being. He was not a threat, and if only police officers understood that, he would be alive today. Say his name #StephonClark. 

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