Thousands of fans were prevented from attending Thursday night's NBA game between the Hawks and Kings in Sacramento, Calif., by people protesting the recent shooting death of Stephon Clark by city police.
People formed a human chain around Golden 1 Center on Thursday afternoon and evening, preventing all but the earliest-arriving fans from entering the arena. The Kings locked the arena doors and then delayed the start of the game about 15 minutes from its scheduled 7 p.m. PT tip time as the protest continued.
The few spectators who were able to get inside were moved to the lower bowl, mostly between the baselines.
— Madison Wade (@madisoncwade) March 23, 2018
The Kings later told other ticketholders to abandon attempts to get in.
"Due to law enforcement being unable to ensure ticketed fans could safely enter the arena, the arena remains closed and we ask fans outside to travel home. We will issue further information soon regarding a refund," the team said in a statement.
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive addressed the fans and the public at midcourt after the game. He called Clark's death a "horrific, horrific tragedy," then pledged his team's support in preventing similar incidents in the future.
"We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform," Ranadive said. "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 (burst of applause).
"We recognize that it's 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, and we're going to work really hard to prevent this kind of a tragedy from happening again."
The Sacramento Bee reported the protesters first shut down city freeways before moving to Golden 1 Center.
Clark, an African-American man, was shot multiple times by police officers Sunday night after they encountered him outside his grandparents' house in Sacramento, the Bee reported. The officers opened fire after thinking Clark was holding a gun. He was, in fact, holding a cell phone.