Settlement reached in lawsuit on behalf of 84 arrested during Stephon Clark Demonstration


Black Lives Matter Sacramento demonstrators hold their fists in the air as they march down Meadowview Road during the one year anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death in South Sacramento, Calif. on March 18, 2019. (Photo by Ashley Hayes-Stone)

Sacramento officials reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit on behalf of 84 people who were arrested during a demonstration in East Sacramento on March 4, 2019, according to the Sacramento Bee. 

The tentative $624,000 settlement came a year after the Sacramento Police Department arrested 84 people, including multiple American River College students, who were protesting Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s decision not to charge the two officers who shot and killed 22-year-old Stephon Clark in March 2018.

According to Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin, protesters will be paid around $4,000 each by the city, the Bee reported on March 10. Sacramento County will also pay additional amounts to each person and an additional $50,000 will be set aside for protester’s medical bills.

The deal needs to be approved by a judge before those arrested are notified, according to the Bee.

The protest in East Sacramento on the night of March 4, 2019 started off peacefully until Sacramento PD declared it an unlawful assembly and ordered the demonstration to disperse, according to a Sac PD press release on March 8, 2019.

As people tried to leave, police blockades forced them onto an overpass, where officers corralled them in on both ends and detained them, according to accounts from ARC students involved.

Raven Kauba, a former ARC pre-nursing major, was one of those arrested last year. Kauba, who spoke with the Current last year, described the night of the arrests.

“It was really loud, they had the helicopter overhead and everybody was super freaked out and confused,” Kauba told the Current in 2019. “They [Sac PD] had bikes, they had M16 (rifles) with the rubber bullets. … It was confusing because we couldn’t see anything.”

Kauba said that she was unsure how premeditated the mass arrests were, but she believed that Sac PD was intending to send a message.

“The riot police aren’t there to protect anybody,” Kauba said last year. “Me getting arrested says less about my involvement with this movement, and more about the excessive display of force on the part of Sac PD.”

Although Schubert dropped the charges against those arrested, Sacramento groups continued to protest her decision throughout March of 2019. 

Protests also called for support of Assembly Bill 392, which redefined the circumstances for when the use of deadly force is justifiable and was approved by Governor Gavin Newsom on August 19, 2019.

Since the settlement on March 10, Sac PD has added an update to their press release regarding the 2019 arrests.

While they don’t address the settlement directly, Sac PD says since the arrests, it has updated and clarified its language used during protests, among other changes in response to community concerns. 

“The updated language more clearly states where and how participants may disperse before we announce that arrests will be made,” the statement said. 

Other changes listed in the statement include additional training, community outreach and a new media relations policy, which has not yet been posted in the Sac PD website. The current media relations policy has not been updated since March 2017.