Leia Schenk didn’t show up to K Street on April 3, 2023, to make reporters or politicians feel better about themselves.
The head of Empact, a youth advocacy and crisis response group, Schenk didn’t seem to find any reason to sugar-coat her words while leading a remembrance of the worst mass shooting in Sacramento history. That included raising the question of whether some journalists and elected officials have somehow lost the thread of its magnitude. Schenk was there on that bloody morning, standing with victims’ family members for hours as they waited for the bodies to be moved. Now, she was returning to the same spot a year later, this time with two little girls who’d lost their father in the bullet-sprayed carnage.
“In responding to calls such as this, you never really know the story,” Schenk told the faces behind a battery of cameras. “I want to hone-in on this … because these were real lives. All these bodies that laid on the ground: This is real life. This is not a movie. This really did happen. Eighteen people shot. Six people lost their lives that early morning. It was horrific. It was a tragedy. And we can’t see it as anything other than that.”
Behind Schenk, nodding his head, was Stevante Clark, whose older brother De’Markus McKinnie was shot-to-death in a blur of community violence long before his other brother, Stephon, became a national news story. Clark stepped forward and, with a kind exasperated passion punching in his voice, began to say the quiet part out loud — a thought that’s been roiling the consciousness of people who live and work in the city’s urban core.