Stephon Clark’s initials – SAC – spelled the nickname of his hometown, but his nickname was “Zoe Blow.” The 22-year-old and his brother grew up with his grandmother in Sacramento, where he was a funny student, an aspiring athlete, and worked at the youth center. Everyone agreed that he was gifted at explaining things “just right” for folks to understand. Though he was outwardly stylish and goofy, he was also traumatized by overwhelming fears of abandonment: his father was absent; his mother struggled with addiction; his older brother died of an accidental gunshot wound. He had two sons with his longtime girlfriend Salena, and though their relationship often ran hot and cold, he was committed to giving his sons the family life he did not have. He converted to Salena’s family faith of Islam, completed counseling for his anger issues, and had just applied for work at a local food warehouse.
Stephon Clark was murdered by police on March 3, 2018, for holding a cell phone. He had had a nasty fight with Salena and, panicked she might take his sons away, decided to stay with his grandmother. Responding to a 9-1-1 call around 9 pm, a police helicopter unit located Stephon running through homes’ backyards. When he finally stopped in the driveway of a house, cops burst in from the street to apprehend him. Stephon fled to the backyard, chased by the cops. With him cornered, they shot 20 rounds in five seconds, striking Stephon at least 8 times, many after he had already collapsed. Though police would claim that he had a tool bar, and then later a gun, Stephon was only carrying a cellphone. The cops would not be charged with any crime.
The house, it would turn out, was his grandmother’s. Stephon had almost made it home.
Black lives matter.