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Sacramento Kings Launch PSA Critical of Police in Stephon Clark Shooting

AP Robert Petersen
AP Photo/Robert Petersen

Several members of the Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics launched an effort to criticize police and support Stephon Clark, a Sacramento resident who was shot and killed by police who mistook his cell phone for a gun.

The players teamed up to create a public service announcement critical of police. In the PSA players urge citizens to hold police accountable for the young man’s death. The ad ends with the slogan “Accountability. We are one #StephonClark,” Sporting News reported.

The players have also been seen wearing black warm-up shirts with the slogan and hashtag in white lettering emblazoned upon them.

“It’s something that I think we can use our platform, like Vivek said, to support and try to create change,” Kings guard Garrett Temple told the Sacramento Bee on March 22. “Because no matter how you look at it, these things have to stop, one way or another. Us being on the national stage, we have a way to try to push our support towards change, and we’re going to try to do that.”

The activism stems from the March 18 incident involving Sacramento Police who had been called by a resident reporting vandalism. Officers chased 22-year-old Stephon Clark from the scene of the vandalism and confronted him in his grandmother’s backyard. They opened fire on him under the assumption that he was pointing a gun at them. Police later discovered that the man was holding a cell phone and not a weapon.

Over the ensuing days the shooting quickly became a cause célèbre for local Black Lives Matter-type activists, and on March 22, a large number of activists blocked access for fans trying to enter the Golden 1 Center for the Atlanta Hawks-Sacramento Kings game.

Three days later, the Kings and the Celtics were seen sporting the shirts supporting the protesters and calling for “accountability” for the actions of the police. While many supported the players’ activism, others felt it was merely a cynical ploy to keep protesters from blocking access to the stadium for Sunday’s Kings-Celtics game. The Celtics beat the Kings with a close 104 to 93 final during the March 25 game.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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