Stevante Clark wants people to remember Stephon Clark as a father, an uncle, a funny guy, a son, a brother.
This Saturday marks five years since Sacramento police officers fatally shot Stephon Clark in a South Sacramento backyard — his grandparent’s home — but Stevante and his family are focused on reclaiming Stephon’s story as they continue to seek justice and accountability.
“If we don't humanize our loved ones, who will?” Stevante Clark told CapRadio this week.
This week, the Clark family is hosting a series of events to honor Stephon Clark. There was a dinner and fundraiser with Al Sharpton on Wednesday. A “legacy ride-along” through Clark’s neighborhood, passing by murals that remember him, on Thursday. The third annual Stephon Clark Block Party is Friday. And there’s a march and gathering at the Capitol’s west steps on Saturday. Plus, on Sunday, a brunch for moms who have lost loved ones to violence. Six events total this week. (All of them are on the IamSac website.)
“It's going to be love, light and energy to commemorate life and legacy of Stephon,” Stevante Clark said.
We spoke to Stevante Clark this week to learn more about his family’s work and to reflect on what he calls a “movement, not a moment.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CapRadio: You’ve invited families impacted by police violence to speak at the Capitol on Saturday, which marks five years since Stephon’s death. Can you tell me more about this event?
Stevante Clark: On Saturday at the Capitol will be the second annual Justice and Accountability March for impacted families, by both community and police violence, to commemorate their loved ones in a positive light. [They will] also tell us about their fight for justice and our fight for accountability.
It also humanizes their loved ones, because if we don't humanize our loved ones, who will?
Malcolm X said the most powerful entity on Earth is the media, because they have the power to make the innocent look guilty, guilty look innocent. So, we want to tell our own stories to humanize our own loved ones. … We're going to keep doing this until we get justice and accountability.
I really like what you said about making this a human story. Can you share with us a little bit about what you plan to say on Saturday?
What I plan on saying Saturday is the same thing I've been saying for the last five years. I plan on telling people now that Stephon was more than some kid, unarmed and killed in his grandmother's backyard. He was a father. He was a brother. He was a son. He was an uncle. He was a friend. He was amazing. It was love and light. It was energy. He was a comedian, you know? I mean, he was passionate.
Stephon was just, you know, not all of these things that the media tried to play him to be, you know … the breaking windows, the running away. None of those misdemeanor actions should result in felonious murder. So, that's what I'll be speaking about, is why Stephon should be alive, and who Stephon is, and how people can support when it comes to actionable items to prevent “Stephon” from ever happening again.
I don't think I've ever heard you describe him as a comedian, as funny. And I was curious if you had any memories in that space?
Yeah, he was. [He] was a class clown, you know? I mean, he liked to do pranks. Every time you came around he was making jokes. You’re talking about someone who had a dark sense of humor. But the guy was a comedian, he was just funny. … He knew how to bring that smile out of people. You know what I mean? Even with his charm. But he was only 22 years old. He had a lot more laughter to give. He should be here.
It's been five years. You and your family have accomplished a lot in his name, in his memory. When you reflect, what stands out in your mind today?
Yeah, you're right. We have accomplished a lot. At the same time, what stands out to me is we haven't gotten any justice and accountability.
We accomplished a lot when it comes to [the] Stephon Clark Law, Stephon Clark Middle School, Stephon Clark playground. But the Clark family has never gotten justice and accountability, and I think our fight, for us, that's what we want. We want just some accountability.
The men who assassinated my brother, they still work for the Sacramento Police Department. They have not been fired, charged or convicted. And if you don't know the difference between a gun and a cell phone, you shouldn’t even have the job as a police officer.
Any time we do something so bad where a law must be created, you should be held accountable.
So, you know, you reflect on all the positive things we've done in five years. It's still bittersweet, because our brother is not with us. Stephon is not here.
We have become desensitized, our movement, like the Tyre Nichols situation. … We as a country are desensitized by the murdering of young Black men in America, and it's sickening. And it breaks my heart, you know what I mean? I'm just tired, sick and tired of being sick and tired. And I don't want to go out with a broken heart, you know, because [mine] has already broken. But I need people to understand that Stephon deserves to be alive today. Period. Point blank.
I know this is forever work for you, right? This is something you're going to do the rest of your life. But I'd be interested in your plans for the future? What are the next things that you want to work on?
I want Stephon to have a statue. So I'm working on that right now. He deserves a statue. All these others have statues, but my brother doesn't. One of my brothers, Trayvon, does have a statue. George Floyd has a statue. So I want Stephon to get a statue.
I reached out to you this week because I think it's important for Sacramento to keep hearing this story, and of course you are one of the people who tells it. But I imagine it's just difficult to have to get a text from me, every year, around this time. I just want to talk to you about how you and your family get through that.
It's a good question. I don't really reflect on it too much because I have to handle all the business of it. For me, it's not so much a reflection, because even though it's this time of year, I'm used to the interviews, of course, and all that. I'm used to dealing with the media. …
But, you know, we have to do it. So even though we should be reflecting on Stephon and all the things, it's kind of hard because we have a block party tomorrow, we have a march on Saturday, we have a brunch on Sunday. We did our ride along today. We had our dinner yesterday. I got a concert Saturday night.
[There’s] so much work that I really haven't taken the time to really reflect on it so much because I'm always fight, fight, fight, fight until I get to some type of accountability. It will be hard for me to reflect on anything because I'm so busy trying to keep his name alive.