Sacramento, California, March 27, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence supports peaceful protest as a legitimate means of achieving social change. It does not, however, support the kind of verbally abusive, physically threatening protest that disrupted the Sacramento City Council meeting on two occasions this evening. The purpose of the meeting was to allow Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert to report on what they were doing in response to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, by two Sacramento police officers on March 18; and for the City Council to listen to public commentary concerning the shooting. Americans Against Gun Violence president Dr. Bill Durston was present at the meeting and had prepared the following statement, but he and other attendees were prevented from speaking due to the disruptions caused by the protesters.
Mayor Steinberg and Council Members,
My name is Dr. Bill Durston. I’m a former expert marksman in the US Marine Corp, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and a retired emergency physician. I’m speaking tonight on behalf of Americans Against Gun Violence as the president of this organization.
We’d first like to commend Mayor Steinberg, Chief Hahn, members of the Sacramento Police Department, and members of the community for the restraint that everyone has shown in avoiding any further violence in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark by two police officers on March 18. At the same time, we share the belief of many members of the community that there is reasonable doubt as to whether this shooting was justified.
It’s the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that we have not only the ability, but also the moral responsibility to reduce rates of gun violence in the United States to rates comparable to other high income democratic countries – countries in which mass shootings, shootings of civilians by police, and shootings of police by civilians are rare or non-existent, and in which overall rates of gun violence are one tenth the rate in our country. To achieve such dramatic reductions, we need to adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws in those other democratic countries. We further believe that stringent regulation of civilian gun ownership should be accompanied by stringent regulation of the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.
The Stephon Clark shooting raises reasonable doubts as to whether the Sacramento Police Department has stringent regulations on the use of lethal force by its officers, and if it does, whether officers are sufficiently trained to abide by those regulations.
We would like to propose the formation of a task force that includes strong representation from civil society, including representation from Americans Against Gun Violence, to review standards for the use of lethal force by the Sacramento Police Department as well as to consider ways to reduce overall rates of gun violence in our community, our state, and our nation.