Sacramento, CA – Just a week after Black Lives Matter began blocking access to the Golden 1 Center Sacramento Kings NBA games, the team has proudly announced that it has partnered with the anti-police group by making an “investment” in the “black youth in Sacramento,” the team said in a press release on Wednesday.
The protests began on Mar. 22, in response to the Mar. 18 officer-involved shooting of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old burglar, who shattered the window of an elderly man’s home before pointing an object towards officers that was later determined to be a cell phone.
The protesters surrounded the stadium prior to the start of the Kings v Atlanta Hawks game, prompting stadium security to pull back and secure the stadium’s doors.
With the exception of the few fans who arrived early, ticketholders were locked out of the event, which carried on after a 19-minute delay, the Washington Post reported.
Fans were outraged, but instead of blaming the protesters for the shutdown, the Sacramento Kings blamed law enforcement.
“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,” the Kings said in a statement.
On Mar. 25, the Kings teamed up with the Celtics and created a video in a failed attempt to appease the protesters, who also happened to be negatively affecting the NBA’s ability to rake in cash from ticketholders.
“These tragedies have to stop,” one player said in the video.
“There must be accountability,” the NBA stars said, as the video cycled through various players. “Say his name. Stephon Clark.”
Players from both teams also wore shirts that bore Clark’s name during their warmups prior to the game, The New York Times reported.
But the attempt to appease protesters failed, and Black Lives Matter were back at the stadium on Mar. 27, where they formed a human chain to block fans from entering once again.
The amount of profit the Kings and the NBA have lost as a result of the protests is unclear.
On Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the second protest, the Kings announced their partnership with Black Lives Matter and the Build. Black. Coalition.
“As part of their commitment to the goals of the Build. Black. Coalition, a group of Sacramento community leaders who have organized in the wake of the Stephon Clark shooting, a tragic death of a young man by Sacramento police, the Sacramento Kings will create an education fund for the children of Stephon Clark,” the team said in their press release. “This fund cannot fix the issues that led to the death of their father, but it will secure opportunities for their futures while the family and the city grapples with healing.”
The team committed to a “multi-year plan” with the Build. Black. Coalition, which will focus on providing support for the education of Sacramento youth “and to provide the workforce preparation and economic development needed to truly # BuildBlackFutures.”
The Kings’ announcement went on to outline an immediate event they planned to stage with the anti-police groups, during which “an unapologetic conversation” would be held regarding “police violence,” and the effect Clark’s death has had on Sacramento youth.
Free transportation and food was also provided at the Black Lives Matter gathering, which took place on Friday.
The Kings are scheduled to host the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.