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Sacramento mayor: "Implied racism" an "undeniable factor" in police shootings

Sacramento mayor on Stephon Clark shooting

In the wake of the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police, the city's mayor said Wednesday that "implied racism" is behind police shootings. Clark was shot to death in his grandmother's yard last week, and officers said they believed he was carrying a gun but it turned out he was only holding a cellphone.

"I do not believe our police force is racist in any way," said Mayor Darrell Steinberg on CBSN. "I don't think that's intended but I do think that implied racism is an undeniable factor in the way these sorts of tragedies play out -- not just in Sacramento but throughout the country."

Steinberg expanded on this, saying that not just in law enforcement but "all of us" have "preconceived attitudes and stereotypes" that cause people to act differently "depending on the color of one's skin." 

Since Clark's death on March 18, there have been protests in Sacramento. On Tuesday, Clark's brother, Stevonte Clark, marched into a Sacramento City Council meeting and took a seat on the dais directly in front of Steinberg. Stevonte Clark encouraged others to join in a chant of "Stephon Clark."

Protests intensify in Sacramento over deadly police shooting

Steinberg noted Wednesday that all the protests since Clark's death have been peaceful, with just one arrest stemming from the demonstrations. Other protests have taken place outside the Golden 1 Center, which have caused the NBA's Sacramento Kings to lock out some fans for what they said were safety concerns. 

Steinberg said he feels the "anguish" and "trauma" of both the family and the community.

"I feel the trauma of the community and it's my job to help lead – not just a conversation but a plan of action to translate that trauma and grief into justice and change and that's what we intend to do," Steinberg said. While there will be an investigation in Clark's shooting, Steinberg said the police will be undergoing an "immediate" review of its policies, protocols and training around the shooting. 

But Steinberg also noted some of the problems plaguing Sacramento -- and cities all over the country -- of increasing gentrification and the high cost of living that have pushed out communities, especially communities of color. "The conversation needs to be brought," Steinberg said. "If it's not a city for all, it's not doing enough."

While the White House said Wednesday that Clark's death is a "local matter" for Sacramento, Steinberg said it is a "national matter" since there "horrific tragedies" have occurred throughout the country.

"It's not unique to Sacramento but now the spotlight's on us and we have a moment in time to lead towards justice and real change and that's exactly what we intend to do," Steinberg said.

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