(Reuters) - Black Lives Matter activists protested again in Sacramento on Thursday over the shooting of an unarmed black man by police, calling for criminal charges against the officers after an emotional funeral service for the 22-year-old father of two.
At least 60 protesters gathered outside the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, holding signs such as “Prosecute” and “Justice for Stephon Clark.”
Clark’s death was the most recent in a string of fatal shootings of black men by police that have triggered protests across the United States and renewed a national debate about bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.
At the funeral service, veteran civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton addressed a congregation of hundreds.
“We’re going to make (U.S. President) Donald Trump and the whole world deal with the issue of police misconduct,” he said.
The service at a church in California’s capital city came a day after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters the shooting was a “local matter.” Sharpton criticized that comment and praised protesters who have blocked traffic in the city, saying they were non-violent.
A White House representative could not be reached for comment on Sharpton’s criticism.
Clark was gunned down on the night of March 18 in his grandparents’ backyard by police responding to a report that someone was breaking windows. Police said the officers who shot at Clark 20 times feared he was holding a firearm, but that he was later found to have been holding a cellphone.
Twice, protesters have blocked fans from reaching games played by the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball team at the Golden 1 Center.
The Kings were scheduled to play the Indiana Pacers at the downtown arena on Thursday night. Police were working on a new security plan ahead of the game, Sacramento police spokesman Eddie Macaulay said in an email.
On Wednesday, the Kings said the franchise would set up an education fund for Clark’s children, as well as a partnership with a local activist group to support youth education.
Tim Davis, president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association, did not return calls on Thursday.
Davis, in a statement earlier this week, said the two officers who opened fire believed Clark had a firearm and were “legally justified under the law.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has said state investigators will oversee the investigation and review the Police Department’s procedures and practices.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Gina Cherelus in New York and Bob Strong in Sacramento; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler