More Reflections on Stephon Clark

Chancellor Gary S. May portrait

Dear Campus Community,

By now, you have heard that the police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark a year ago in March after mistaking his cell phone for a gun will not be charged. Stephon was killed in his grandmother’s backyard. At the time, I reflected on what it must feel like to be unsafe in a presumed safe space.

Like many of the members of the UC Davis community, I mourn the loss of potential of this young man. He had a connection to our campus — he attended the Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) Summit College Day at UC Davis several years ago. I continue to be deeply disturbed by the violence that plagues our society. Nevertheless, we must remain hopeful and work together to find solutions to this ongoing problem.

To that end, preliminary meetings have taken place between UC Davis and other area higher education institutions, together with constituents in Sacramento and Davis, to explore a program that would research ways to address some of the systemic issues through community-based actions. In this way, we hope to create positive relationships built around mutual values.

Change also needs to happen on a larger scale, and I am encouraged that California lawmakers will be considering Assembly Bill 392, introduced by Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty, which, if passed, would change how police officers can use deadly force.

None of these measures will bring Stephon back to his family. But hopefully our communities can honor his memory by moving forward together to help Sacramento — and the state of California — resolve the systemic problems that led to his death.

Gary S. May