Protests Over the Killing of an Unarmed Black Man Disrupted a Sacramento Kings Game. Here’s What the Team Owner Told the Crowd.
Just days after an unarmed black man identified as Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers, protesters took to the streets of California’s state capital Thursday night, storming City Hall and blocking ticket holders from entering the Golden 1 Center ahead of a Sacramento Kings NBA game.
The protest led to the basketball game’s delay for about 20 minutes and prevented the majority of ticket holders from entering the arena as police were largely unable to clear entrances from protesters who had formed a human chain.
The disruption prompted Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé to address the crowd with seemingly off-the-cuff remarks that are drawing praise. Ranadivé—an Indian-American businessman, engineer, author, philanthropist, and co-owner of the Kings since 2010—expressed sympathy to the deceased man’s family and vowed that the team would take a leadership role in the community.
“On Sunday we had a horrific, horrific tragedy in our community. And on behalf of the players, the executive ownership, and the entire Kings family, I first of all wanted to express our deepest sympathies to the family,” Ranadivé said.
Ranadivé acknowledged the right of people to protest peacefully and noted that the team must use its platform to stand in unity with them.
“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,” Ranadivé told the crowd.
“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 with our own community,” he said. “We are going to work really hard to prevent this kind of a tragedy from happening again.”
Ranadivé’s response to the protests draws a sharp contrast to how some NFL team owners have reacted to players’ National Anthem protests in recent seasons. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reportedly said he would bench any player on his team who protested during the anthem. And Houston Texans owner Robert McNair infamously said that “We can’t have the inmates running the prison” as justification for opposing the protests of NFL players.