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Kings take stand against racial injustice with Black Lives Matter protestors in Sacramento

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Several prominent members of the Sacramento Kings attended a Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday.

Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

On Saturday, thousands of people gathered in Downtown Sacramento for a peaceful protest to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Among the protestors in attendance were a few representatives from the Sacramento Kings, both past and present, including Harrison Barnes, Matt Barnes, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Doug Christie, Vlade Divac, De’Aaron Fox, Kyle Guy, Rico Hines, Bobby Jackson, Justin James, Vivek Ranadive and Luke Walton.

Ranadive, the team’s owner, passionately addressed the crowd of protesters, telling them that they have have the full support of the organization.

“We stand here together — black, white, brown, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, young, old — and we have just one message: Black Lives Matter,” Ranadive said. “Black Lives Matter. Now, many of you have been saying this for the last few years, but this message has not been heard, so, you know what? We’re going to scream this message. We’re going to scream it from the arena, we’re going to scream it from the parks, we’re going to scream it from the mountaintops — from college campuses to town squares. And we’re going to scream it as loudly and as many times as we need to until people get it. Black Lives Matter.”

The Kings have been allies of the Black Lives Matter movement since 2018, the same year a 22-year-old black man by the name of Stephon Clark was killed by police in the backyard of his grandmother’s Sacramento home. Clark was shot several times despite being unarmed. The officers who shot him didn’t face criminal charges at the state or federal level, and returned to full, active duty in 2019.

In the aftermath of Clark’s death, the Kings announced a partnership with Black Lives Matter Sacramento and the Build. Black. Coalition. As part of their partnership, the Kings created an educational fund for Clark’s children in 2018. They’ve also hosted public forums to talk about racial inequality and injustice with players from the team.

Harrison Barnes also spoke at the protest, calling on everyone to educate themselves on their local government officials, and vote.

“Our job as protestors is important to our democracy. It allows us to bring awareness, but also put pressure on elected officials to implement new laws, new policies and hear our concern,” Barnes said. “But if all we do is show up to protest and don’t follow through to voting, we’re not going to see the change we want to see. We all care about the community — that’s why we’re here today — but now we need to care about who represents us. The people who run out police departments, decide who gets charged with what crimes and judge our sentences are all elected officials.

“If you took the time to come here and march, then you need to take the time to go home and identify every single person who represents us, and decide if they’re part of the problem, or part of the solution.”

In April, Barnes and his wife, Brittany, teamed up with the The Center at Sierra Health Foundation and the Black Child Legacy Campaign (BCLC) to donate $40,000 to provide vulnerable families and seniors in Sacramento’s black community with weekly groceries for a month.

This iteration of the Kings have had their fair share of faults on the court, but they’ve been outstanding with the work they’ve done in their community — from the solidarity they showed at the protest, to the relief they provided during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

You can donate to the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter here. For other local organizations and businesses you can support during time, you can check out Elyse Pham’s list for the Sacramento Bee.