BALTIMORE, MD (April 2, 2018) – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s premier civil rights organization, issued the following statement following the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark by a Sacramento police officer and the failure to prosecute the officers involved in the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge in 2016.
“The NAACP fiercely condemns these latest examples of our justice system’s failure to protect Black lives. Stephon Clark’s death is the latest chapter of the ongoing epidemic of police brutality in our nation and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s announcement that no charges would be filed against the officers involved in Sterling’s death represents an all too familiar epilogue to that narrative. The City of Baton Rouge’s decision to fire one of the officers involved is a step in the right direction, but it cannot replace a criminal prosecution for Mr. Sterling’s killing. Each new detail that emerges about the deaths of Mr. Clark and Mr. Sterling strengthens our conviction that the police officers involved must be held legally responsible for their actions.
“While our nation engages in a critical discussion on gun violence, we must not ignore the continual stream of men, women, and children who lives are lost to police firearms. African-Americans are less than 13 percent of the total U.S. population but account for 23% of those shot by police in 2017, according to the Washington Post.
“We are tired of the apologies, tired of murder being justified on the sole basis that an armed officer feared harm. This is not right and the NAACP refuses to accept this. We extend our deepest condolences to the Clark family, and we stand in solidarity with the citizens of Sacramento voicing their pain through protest regarding the unnecessary and vicious murder of this young father of two. We call on local officials to keep protestors safe as they exercise their First Amendment rights. We stand with our Sacramento Branch and our California/Hawaii State Conference President Alice Huffman in calling for a thorough investigation and the vigorous pursuit of justice for the Clark family.
“Although the White House would have us believe that the killings of Mr. Sterling and Mr. Clark are simply ‘local matter[s]’, we know better. The federal government has a duty to enforce federal civil rights laws, a duty to ensure that we live in a nation where local authorities do not kill us with impunity. We refuse to accept the White House’s abdication of responsibility. As we embark on our remembrance of the 50thanniversary of Dr. King’s murder, we challenge this administration to commit to vigorously enforcing the civil rights laws that form a central part of his legacy.
“The deaths of Mr. Clark and Mr. Sterling are tragic examples of law enforcement’s failure to adequately protect those they are sworn to serve. We will do everything we can to make them the last.”