The Kings’ game against Atlanta on Thursday tipped off with a sparse crowd in the stands and the doors to the arena locked.
Sacramento was forced to put the Golden 1 Center on lockdown, stopping most fans from attending the game, as protesters took to the streets over the police shooting of 23-year-old Stephon Clark.
Stephon’s brother, Stevante, was part of the protest and addressed the crowd outside the arena.
“All these kids, we got to love,” he said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “All we got is community.”
Stephon Clark, an unarmed African-American man, was shot at 20 times and killed in his grandparent’s backyard Sunday by Sacramento cops who believed he was holding a gun. They were responding to a 911 call about a man who broke three car windows.
Police, follwing an investigation of the shooting, said Stephon was holding an iPhone, not a gun.
After the game began on a small delay, the Kings said in a statement that fans with tickets waiting outside the arena near the protests should go home.
“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,” the team said. “We will issue further information soon regarding a refund.”
The Sacramento Police took to Twitter to make a similar announcement and referred to the protests as “unforeseen circumstances.”
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive addressed the crowd at the end of the game, which Sacramento won, 105-90.
He called the shooting a “horrific tragedy” and said the team will use their “big platform”to bring the community together.
“We recognize its not just business as usual,” Ranadive said.
Protests started early in the day at city hall and reached the home of the Kings shortly before the game was scheduled to begin.
The small number of fans who made it into the arena before the doors closed were allowed to move down close to the court.