Man in MAGA Hat Mobbed, Has Hat Stolen as Stephon Clark Protest Spirals out of Control in Sacramento
More than 80 demonstrators were arrested in Sacramento Monday night, after a protest against the district attorney's decision not to charge the police officers who shot an unarmed black man last year spun out of control.
Agitators reportedly blocked streets as they chanted for justice, keyed cars, and yelled at residents in their homes. At one point, a man who came to the rally wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat and his daughter were mobbed by protesters and his hat was stolen off his head, video footage shows. The man told a reporter for the Sacramento Bee that he came to the rally in the MAGA hat to see what would happen -- and he found out.
In March 2018, 22-year-old Stephon Clark was shot to death by two police officers in circumstances there were "in every way tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving," according to PJ Media columnist and Southern California police officer Jack Dunphy:
Clark’s death falls into the category of shootings known unofficially among prosecutors as “awful but lawful.” It is true that he did not have a gun, but it is also true that the officers believed he did at the time they fired. The question to be answered in evaluating the officers’ actions is this: Was the belief that Clark presented a deadly threat “reasonable” within the guidelines set forth in Graham v. Connor? Unless evidence to the contrary emerges through the investigation, clearly the answer is yes.
About 100 protesters, organized through a collective of black community members called "The Table Sacramento," held the protest outside a Trader Joe’s supermarket in East Sacramento. That particular spot was chosen "because it is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the City of Sacramento and home to many influential leaders in city and state government," according to a statement put out by the coalition.
The video below, courtesy of the Sacramento Bee, shows a man in a MAGA hat watching the protest with his daughter when someone grabs the hat off his head and runs off with it. Soon the man and his daughter are surrounded by black-clad agitators, including a woman repeatedly blowing a whistle in his face.
"Don't touch me! Don't touch me!" the man, later identified as Dan Iverson, repeatedly shouts in the video. Riot police soon intervene and break up the tense situation.
A reporter from the Sacramento Bee asked Iverson and his daughter Andie what happened.
"We just were walking down here and they totally started crowding and threatening me — the people in the black masks," the shaken man said. "The people in the black masks came up and were threatening my daughter and myself."
When asked why he thought the protesters were doing that, Iverson responded: "Because I had a hat on."
"It said, "Make America Great Again," Andie explained.
"So this is supposed to be a freedom of speech rally, right?" Iverson continued. "They just took my hat!"
The reporter asked the father and daughter if they had done anything to provoke the hostility.
"We were just standing back by the tree," the man said. "We didn't say anything ... We were just watching."
He said he was a little "shaken up" after having "50 people grabbing" at him.
"I'm shaking right now," the man said.
He told the reporter that he has property in the neighborhood and he'd never been to a protest before.
"My daughter's in Social Studies at school. We came to a community ... situation ... to check it out," he explained. "I live with my wife and two kids. We are law-abiding -- we came down here to check out a free speech -- immediately we're surrounded by people in black masks and then other people came up grabbing at my jacket, grabbing at my daughter, and all I said was -- nothing. I didn't say anything."
Iverson said agitators in the mob cursed at them and told them to "go home." "We live in Sacramento, okay?" he told the reporter. "We live here."
When asked if it was because of the hat," Iverson responded, "Obviously!"
When further pressed, he admitted that he wore the hat because he was curious to see what would happen.
"We didn't mean any harm. We didn't try to threaten," the daughter explained. "We just wanted to come here. And, you know, it's a hat. I don't see the offense."
Iverson said that he'd been teaching his kids "to respect other people's views."
He said he had bought the hat to try "a social experiment."
"You have to respect what other people think, what other people say, what other people believe," he said.
The Sacramento Bee's video is titled: Person in MAGA Hat Confronts Stephon Clark Protesters.
According to Fox40, the protesters provided a list of five demands in their statement, including a call for the termination of the Sacramento police officers who killed Clark and for the resignation of District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.
Protesters blocked streets as they chanted for justice and yelled to residents in their homes.
Sacramento Police Department's Capt. Norm Leong says several cars in the area were keyed.
After the large crowd circled back around to the Trader Joe's on Folsom Boulevard, Leong initially reported more than 80 people were arrested. They were lined up, their wrists in zip ties, along the Highway 50 overpass on 51st Street.
Sacramento Bee reporter Dale Kasler was also detained by officers for what he was told was a "failure to obey an order to disperse," he told FOX40. Despite explaining that he was a journalist and keeping his credentials visible during the incident, Kasler was released by police after around an hour.
The Sacramento Police Department said Tuesday morning that they detained a total of 85 people: one was released without a citation; 83 people were released after receiving citations; and one person was arrested and booked for a weapons charge.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg responded to the arrests, saying: “I’m very disappointed the protest ended the way it did. I have many questions about what went on that precipitated the order to disperse and the subsequent arrests. I will withhold further comment until I get answers to these crucial questions tonight or tomorrow morning. No matter the reason an order to disperse was given, no member of the press should be detained for doing their job."