SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Members of the Golden State Warriors did not attend the rally organized by former NBA player Matt Barnes in honor of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed African-American male who was fatally shot by two Sacramento police officers on March 18.
“How do we explain to our kids that because of the color of your skin, people aren’t going to like you,” Barnes said at the podium during the rally. “That’s not fair, but that’s something you have to explain to your kids every day. It’s like we’ve been talking about today, we didn’t want to lose fact of the site of why we’re here. Thank you to everybody that came out and kept it peaceful. We’re going to get some accountability for the stuff that continues to go on and we’re doing it for the kids right here.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the team was free to take part in the demonstration if they desired to and he reiterated his stance this morning before shootaround in advance of his team facing the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center at 10 p.m. ET. On Friday, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson said they would discuss the matter with teammates on the bus ride to Sacramento.
The rally was held at Cesar Chavez Plaza at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. It ran a little over an hour. Golden State’s shootaround session began at 2 p.m. ET.
Practice lasted approximately an hour, and media availability extended well into the time the rally started.
Sacramento guard Garrett Temple, who is nursing an ankle injury and will not play on Saturday, attended the rally.
“I told Matt I was going to come out, a friend of mine, his city, just lend my support in any way that I can,” Temple told ESPN. “…I am encouraged. Myself and Doug [Christie] and Vince [Carter] did something last night at South Sacramento Christian Center that was very powerful to let kids voice their opinions. I think having the conversation, not letting the conversation die down. Showing people it’s a group, not just black people, it’s a group of American’s that want this change to happen. I think we might be able to get some things done.”
Family members of Clark, community leaders and Barnes addressed the 400-plus diverse crowd in attendance.
The rally also honored Joseph Mann, a 51-year-old mentally ill African-American male who was killed by Sacramento Police on July 11, 2016.
“We did this for Stephon Clark and his family, the Mann family and everyone who’s unfortunately lost their lives to these police just taking people down and not being held accountable,” Barnes said. “You have my word, being from here, that I’m going to do everything.”
Although the Warriors players did not attend, they still support Barnes and the Clark family.
“We definitely want to support it,” Durant said after practice on Friday. “Obviously, we have a job to do. We know how important that is. We definitely want to support Matt and everybody that’s trying to take a stand, but we can do it in a different way other than going to the event. … But I definitely support what’s going on.”
Barnes, a Sacramento native, reached out to some of his former Warriors teammates and Kings players to request their presence at the “March for Action!” rally to raise awareness of the Clark shooting and also to address the black-on-black crime plaguing the community.
“I’m hoping for some unity at the rally to bring us together more peacefully,” Barnes told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. “Let’s not lose focus. Obviously, we lost Stephon Clark. But you got two young boys that are going to grow up without a father. Let’s start a scholarship program for those kids to make sure they go to college. Another thing is obviously put pressure on the [district attorney] and the [local media], and obviously, the attorney general is involved now, to prosecute these cops. Plain and simple.
“Twenty shots is a slaughter. People don’t even get shot 20 times in the video game ‘Call of Duty.’ Twenty shots [at] a 22-year-old boy is ridiculous. You have to have some accountability. They are not going to be able to sweep this under the rug now, but they have myself and other celebrities behind this. We got to see this stopping. The press secretary said this was an isolated situation in Sacramento. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a nationwide situation that needs to be addressed. People need to be held accountable.”
An independent autopsy requested by the family revealed Clark was shot eight times — including six times in the back. Police were responding to a report of someone breaking windows.
In the aftermath of the murder, protests in remembrance of Clark have prevented thousands of fans from attending two Kings games. There is another protest planned prior to Saturday’s game.
“I’m very much aware of what’s been going on in Sacramento and very supportive of the protests,” Kerr said.
The Kings are enlisting extra security for proper safety measures and to facilitate the process of getting fans into the arena.
Stephen Curry, who is sidelined with an MCL sprain, did not make the trip with the team, sources said.