Stephon Clark (Photo courtesy of Stevante Clark)
The National Association of Social Workers California Chapter is deeply troubled by the death of Stephon Clark. Clark, an unarmed African American man, was shot to death by police in his grandmother’s backyard. The entire Sacramento community, including law enforcement, is saddened and shocked by this tragedy. There is a great and immediate need to provide a wide array of support to Clark’s immediate family and friends as well as the whole community.
All too often, police killings are polarizing events that cause people to choose sides and be pitted against each other. Social workers call for the community to come together including law enforcement to address the high level of gun violence in our society and when and where deadly force is used.
Our government and leaders and our law enforcement also need to develop policies to support the community after deadly violent tragedies, such as this one. Everyone is traumatized by these deadly events regardless of whether one thinks the shooting was justified or not. Yet, there is no organized program to provide counseling and mental health services to the community nor to the family and friends of the victim.
Recently, family, community and city leaders have called for such support. In this instance, social workers and other mental health professionals have answered the call and provided the support in different venues using different delivery methods.
NASW believes it is time to develop and formalize this support as well as conduct a sincere thorough review of the use of deadly force and the access to guns in our community. Gun violence is a public health issue and must be addressed by everyone in the community.
NASW pledges it support for this effort in every community where its leaders want to take on this difficult and challenging issue. The effort must involve all including law enforcement. If we are to have an impact on gun violence and the use of deadly force, we must work together now.