Stephon Clark protests force Kings to send fans home after arena lockdown
The Sacramento Kings’ game against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday began with almost no one in the stands. Protestors in the area put the team’s arena, Golden 1 Center, on lockdown, preventing any fans from entering.
Protestors gathered for Stephon Clark, an unarmed African-American man who was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers Sunday while in his grandparents’ backyard. Video of the shooting was released Thursday, in which officers fired 20 rounds at Clark believing he had a gun. A search revealed officers mistook Clark’s iPhone for a firearm.
Shortly after the start of the contest, the Kings released a statement urging fans outside to return home.
“Tonight’s game began with a delay. Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”
Protests began at city hall, but moved over toward Golden 1 Center shortly before game-time. With under a half-hour to go before the start of the contest, the arena was put on lockdown.
Golden 1 Center in Sacramento is in lock-down mode for Sacramento Kings v. Atlanta Hawks.
Protesters for Stephon Clark has seized the moment!#StephonClark @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/xLdnfbwFl5
— Publicity Agents (@TonyRayHarvey) March 23, 2018
The current scene outside the @Golden1Center pic.twitter.com/3D9B4odZAr
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) March 23, 2018
Roughly 15 minutes prior to tipoff, the inside of the stadium looked almost empty.
15 minutes to tip-off. Arena is currently "closed" due to protest. pic.twitter.com/jLlajB5Krl
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 23, 2018
Fans already in the stadium were allowed to move closer to the floor. Here’s how the stadium looked at tipoff.
The crowd at tip off pic.twitter.com/IiFEttYfQS
— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) March 23, 2018
The game began after a short delay. The teams did not engage in the normal pregame ceremonies prior to tipoff.
Following the contest, Kinks owner Vivek Ranadivé addressed the crowd.
The Kings defeated the Hawks by a score of 105-90.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik
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