Kings owner shows support: "We are all united."
In wake of Sunday's fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark, protestors shut down Interstate 5 during rush hour and converged arm-in-arm outside of the Sacramento Kings home arena last night. Supporters holding signs with messages such as "Shut it down" set up around the Golden 1 Center prior to the Kings matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, preventing most ticket holders from getting into the arena.
The start of the game was delayed for about 20 minutes as a result of the protests but right before things got underway, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive addressed the crowd to show his support.
"We are so very sorry for your loss,'' Ranadive said, per ESPN. "We at the Kings recognize people's abilities to protest peacefully, and we respect that. We here at the Kings realize that we have a big platform. It's a privilege, but it's also a responsibility. It's a responsibility that we take very seriously, and we stand here before you, old, young, black, white, brown, and we are all united in our commitment.
"We recognize that it is not just business as usual, and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting in our own community. We are going to work really hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.''
Stephon Clark, 22, was killed in the backyard of his grandparents' home on Sunday after two Sacramento police officers fired 20 rounds at him because they believed he was an armed burglary suspect, according to reports.
ESPN reports that protesters formed a human chain blocking fans trying to attend the game and surrounded main entrances to the arena, before police eventually cleared enough room for people to get inside the arena. The NBA had reportedly considered postponing or even cancelling the game, but ultimately decided to play.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said, "Basketball was secondary tonight. The league obviously made the decision that I think was in the best interest of the safety of the fans that were already in the arena. I think it was the right decision by the league but certainly not an easy one.''