Stephon Clark, 22, was in his grandmother’s backyard the evening of March 18 in Sacramento, California, when police approached him, firing 20 shots and taking the young black man’s life.

According to the police, Sacramento officers responded to a report that a man had broken car windows and was hiding out in a backyard. When police arrived, two officers headed toward Clark, who they said advanced towards them “while holding an object,” which they say they thought was a firearm. It turned out to be an iPhone. 

“Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their duty weapons, striking the suspect multiple times," the police news brief said.

The incident has sparked outrage across the country from those who say the shooting was a clear example of racism and police brutality, including Rev. Al Sharpton, who has pledged his support for Clark's family.

In the wake of the March for Our Lives protest Saturday, advocates against gun violence are wondering when shootings in communities of color will get the attention that shootings in white and suburban communities receive. Revs. Irene Monroe and Emmett G. Price III joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio to discuss. A transcript of their conversation is below and has been edited for clarity. 

EMMETT PRICE: Another day in the life of this wonderful nation that we live in. One side of the country, we have rallies and marches for our lives, and on the other side of the country, we’re losing our lives. I think the narrative and the question is, who are the “we?”

IRENE MONROE: And why is more attention paid to mass shootings versus shootings in urban settings, whether it’s gang violence or police brutality? One of the things that the march did … is that it talked more about intersectional discourse. I loved what one [student] said, you know that we have wealth and clout, but that we’re all in this together. That was very beautiful because [March for Our Lives speaker] Edna Chavez said, “I learned how to duck bullets before reading a book” — that says a lot. It was wonderful to even hear Naomi Wadler from Virginia who said [she] speaks for little black girls, and then [Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter] Yolanda Renee King … I cried a lot watching it, and it reminded me of this passage in Isaiah 11:6, “and the little children shall lead us” — so many of them led us on Saturday and shamed us at the same time.

JIM BRAUDE: Let’s go back to this Clark story … this guy I believe went four to six minutes without police approaching him after his body had been riddled, then they handcuff a guy, who, I don’t know if he was dead at that point, but as close to dead as you can possibly be … the inhumanity. Even if you say it was scared cops making a horrible decision and maybe they didn’t intend it, the behavior beyond that is so grotesque it’s almost indescribable.

EP: The fact that you have to rationalize on the behalf of the police officers is an issue. The fact that we have watched young white males blow up schools — and I hate to make this comparison, but I’m just going to do it — blow up, shoot up schools, send mail with bombs in them, and yet we have to rationalize why the police officer may have been afraid of a young black man in the backyard with a cell phone. I mean, that’s just insane.

IM: And part of that, to me, has a lot to do with when [people] see black youth, male or female, you automatically assume criminality, that they’re not innocent, that they are guilty. When you have these mass shootings, the go-to is that it’s mental illness. So you dehumanize a certain population of the American public on race alone.

EP: It’s mental illness, but it’s also a “lone wolf,” right? This is a “loner,” this person has been ostracized from the community and so usually he doesn’t necessarily fit in — there’s this notion of trying to exclude them from the mainstream of white male masculinity.

IM: Do you think it’s seen more as a private act, as opposed [to] a collaborative act? It certainly disrupts the white notion of safety, along with it disrupting the social order in which they know, but do you think that they see that as a private act?

EP: Well yeah, because it dissociates it from a white supremacist or a racialized moment or movement. You distract the notion that this person may have been a part of a hate group or may have been a part of —

IM: But is it not racialized by the mere fact that it is these kids that go out and do this? And many times it’s a feeling that this notion of whiteness, their privilege of whiteness, has been disrupted because they don’t fit in their particular peer group?

EP: Absolutely.

Revs. Irene Monroe and Emmett Price join us every week for All Revved Up. Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist and the Boston voice for Detour’s African-American Heritage Trail. Price is a professor and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.