April 9, 2018
Dear Mayor Steinberg:
I write today on behalf of the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association and the people who call Curtis Park home, to ask for substantive change following the recent tragic shooting of Stephon Clark at his grandparents’ home in the Meadowview neighborhood on March 18th.
In the 1970s, Curtis Park residents banded together to save the old Sierra School from demolition. Thus was born the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association (SCNA) and a dynamic center for multicultural and diverse educational activities. Curtis Park is comprised of more than 2,500 households, and SCNA provides the Sierra Curtis neighborhood a common voice, family entertainment, and a community center, which is the architectural and social centerpiece of our neighborhood.
Over the past 40-plus years, the SCNA Board of Directors has continued to meet regularly to monitor and respond to a variety of issues, including those that affect the quality of life beyond our neighborhood. The board works with fellow neighborhood associations, as well as local business and community organizations to advocate for projects such as support and revitalization of the Broadway and Franklin commercial corridors, and city programs addressing issues such as services for individuals who are homeless, in need of services, and more.
It is in this spirit that SCNA reaches out to you. We commend you for the leadership you have shown as events have unfolded since the shooting. We also acknowledge the difficult situation in which our police find themselves since then, upholding free speech in the streets while at the same time trying to keep people safe.
Today, for the individuals in Curtis Park, I write to make clear that we stand with our African American neighbors and all people who are advocating for justice for this young man. We insist upon a thorough review of the facts in this case by the District Attorney and the Attorney General. We expect an expedited resolution in response to the reviews currently underway. We are also calling for further review and reform by the City Council of the recently revised police policies and training protocols, particularly use-of-force, pursuit practices, and, perhaps most importantly, implicit bias. Quality training must be made available; implicit bias education and awareness training must be ongoing, substantive, and publicly disclosed.
We acknowledge with compassion the grief and frustration our neighbors are expressing as they call for change, and we think it is critical to say to you that we are united as one community in this pursuit. We do so because all of Sacramento must acknowledge that the broader on-going issues underlying this tragedy, specifically the inequities that exist within our communities of color, remain improperly addressed. It is not enough to say that work must yet be done. The work must, in fact, get done to address racial, social, and other inequities that set up the dynamics that led to a young African-American man being tragically shot to death in his grandmother’s backyard holding only a cell phone.
This devastating event is a painful wakeup call that we need to focus on more equitable treatment, processes, resources, and access for all Sacramentans. How we accomplish this, of course, leads to many more questions. You and the City Council have spoken articulately about this loss, and how we must come together. The Sacramento Kings have taken a positive step in this direction by partnering with the newly formed Build Black Coalition that will focus on youth education, job preparation and economic development. The city’s recent economic development strategy called Project Prosper hopes to boost all neighborhoods, particularly those with the highest unemployment and poverty rates. Sacramento needs to do more.
It is our hope that out of this chaos and confusion, we will become a transformed Sacramento that is a more just, equitable and safe home for all of us. You recently said there has to be a better way. We agree and we are committed to do whatever we can to help. Please call on us to be part of the solution.
Eric Johnson, President
SCNA Board of Directors
cc: Attorney General Xavier Becerra
Tanya Faison, Black Lives Matter Sacramento
Chief Daniel Hahn, Sacramento Police Department
Francine Tournmour, Community Police Review Commission
District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert
Betty Williams, NAACP
Pastor Kevin Ross, Unity of Sacramento
Derrell Roberts, Roberts Family Development Center
Chet P. Hewitt, Sierra Health Foundation
Scott Moak, Sacramento Kings
Cassandra Jennings, Urban League
Les Simmons, South Sac Christian Center