activism Natalia Marques Police Accountability

Police Murder of Amir Locke in Minneapolis Sparks Outrage

U.S. police in Minneapolis ignited protests after fatally shooting Amir Locke within nine seconds of entering of home in which he was sleeping
Thousands marched on Saturday in protest of the police shooting of Amir Locke. (Photo via: Liberation News) 

By Natalia Marques / Peoples Dispatch

This past weekend, thousands in the city of Minneapolis mobilized to demand justice for Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by police in the early hours of February 2, only seconds after he woke up. Nearly one thousand Minnesotans took to the streets on Saturday, despite sub-zero temperatures, marching from the Hennepin County Government Building to the first police precinct of the city of Minneapolis. On Sunday, a car caravan drove to what is believed to be the home of Interim Chief of Police Amelia Huffman, where they called for her resignation. On Friday, protesters also organized a car caravan.

At the Saturday protest, Andre Locke, Amir’s father, spoke, asking of the Minneapolis Police Department, “Who told you that you were the judge, jury, and executioner?” Amir Locke was not doing anything illegal when he was shot and killed. In the process of executing the controversial practice of a “no-knock warrant”, MPD entered the home in which Amir was sleeping, proceeding to kick the couch where he lay wrapped up in a blanket. Amir reached for a gun, pointing it towards the floor with his finger off the trigger.

According to Jeff Storms, the lawyer representing the Locke family, “It’s very clear that when Amir grabbed the gun he grabbed it in such a manner that he did not know whether or not he would shoot”. Police did not ask Amir to drop his weapon. The moment Amir grabbed the gun, Officer Mark Hanneman shot him three times, fatally.

MPD interim chief Amelia Huffman had claimed that Amir was pointing his gun towards police, and that officers “loudly and repeatedly announced ‘police search warrant’ before crossing the threshold into the apartment.” Recently released body camera footage, however, proved both claims to be false. 

Both Huffman and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey held a press conference Thursday night to address the outrage at Amir’s death. Huffman doubled down on her false claims, insisting that those watching the footage “make their own assessment.” Huffman also seemed to defend the actions of police when she said that officers had to “make a split-second decision” upon seeing Amir’s gun, which his family claims he had a license to carry. The conference was interrupted by civil rights attorney and activist Nekima Levy-Armstrong, who called out Huffman’s comments as “the anatomy of a cover-up”.  After Levy-Armstrong took action, others in the conference began to demand answers. Attendees asked Frey and Huffman why Amir had been listed as a suspect in a police investigation in an initial press release, when he was not, and why the police released pictures of Amir’s gun which was never fired, and not Hanneman’s gun which fatally shot him. Shortly after being asked these questions, Huffman and Frey exited the press conference without answering.

The shooting has drawn scrutiny to the practice of “no-knock warrants”, or warrants in which the police are not required to knock or announce themselves before raiding a home. This practice runs contrary to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which is meant to protect US citizens against “unreasonable search”. No-knock warrants became legal in the 1970s, during the inception of the infamous “war on drugs”, after police argued that drug dealers were too dangerous or too liable to destroy evidence for police to announce themselves before entering. Although the practice was intended to be rare, there are now about 20,000 no-knock warrants executed every year in the US, according to Vox News. No-knock warrants have proven to be far more dangerous for the civilians involved than police, and have come under scrutiny especially after the police killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her sleep as police were executing a no-knock warrant in her home.

In a movement that began in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd, millions took to the streets to demand an end to police killings of Black people. However, after the death of Amir Locke less than two years later, many desire more structural changes. Connecting the death of Amir to deep-rooted history of racist violence in the US, a protester spoke: “the only ones who deserve space and grace are the families, who have had their children mauled down by this murderous-ass, systemic system of policing. The slave patrols, the sundown towns. Enough is enough.”

19 comments

  1. White America should feel incredibly thankful Blacks haven’t organized en masse to burn this MF’er down completely.

    1. I hope Blacks find a way to do just that; start their own businesses, grow their own food inner city style or as seen on documentary called NEED TO GROW. Keep their money in their neighborhoods and take control of them politically, and fight for them as Savant has done in Seattle. Find your communities greatest needs and don’t let someone else make money off them or fill them, if you can help it. I’m a great fan of Fred Hampton, my favorite hero from the Civil Rights era which we are still in, apparently. He was a great organizer of all people and spoke to the commonalities.

      1. While it feels a little uncouth to have a favorite civil rights leader, I too have nothing but respect for Fred Hampton; a true, brilliant revolutionary.

        No idea where we go from here though I appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

      2. @KP
        I was in high school in a bordering Chicago suburb when Fred Hampton was murdered by the FBI and the Chicago cops. A bunch of us were so angry that we walked out of school and went to the nearest Black Panther headquarters and offered help. Great civil rights leader, RIP. His assassination was a major loss to the planet.

  2. While the majority of those killed by police are white, I can’t recall a single time when there was a protest about a white victim of police violence. We also rarely note the race(s) of police who kill.

    1. @DHFabian
      Black people comprise only 14% of the U.S. population, but comprise 27% of those killed by cops. That means that Black people are twice as likely to be killed by cops. Your comment is ignorant, racist, or both.

      1. But it’s politically important, because it means that whites also have a stake in restraining the police. Your white privilege won’t save you.

        The most gratifying aspect of the George Floyd protests was that so many whites turned out. That’s the first step toward justice.

    2. Actually we do note. And you need to check the percentage of unarmed white and African Americans killed. I think the figures change slight in percentage terms.

  3. I only wish I had known that these protests were taking place. I would have joined them.
    The local media squashed any information about them.

  4. Or they got a tip a Black man had a licensed firearm and was sleeping on the couch in front of the door and arranged for a no-knock warrant using an open case from a nearby police department to do an execution. That’s what I’d look into.

  5. There are multiple problems here:

    1. Most people are cowards who worship Officer Friendly because they think that cops are necessary for their protection. The fact is that the main job of police is to protect property and those who own it, and the more property you have, the more protection you get. Black people tend to be poor, so guess what?

    2. The most likely people to become cops are bullies. The second most likely are people who’ve been bullied (and will this turn into bullies). Until and unless these types are weeded out and kept from becoming cops, there will always be a lot of cops with bad attitudes toward other people.

    3. The incidence of racism in the police is substantially higher than in the general public. Perhaps that’s because the original cops in the U.S. were for the purpose of of keeping slaves from rebelling or escaping, but for whatever reason, this explains why so many unarmed Black people get shot by cops, a much higher number proportionally than white people.

    4. Not only have police become militarized, which started under Clinton, but they view the communities that they’re supposedly serving as battlegrounds if those communities are not at least middle class, and the view the people in those communities as enemies. So of course cops are quick to pull the trigger.

    5. Cops have gotten away with killing Black people for so long that they now act with impunity. This is standard animal behavior, and humans are no different. If you don’t hold people responsible for their actions, they’ll do bad things.

  6. In Minneapolis, even activists like Nekima Levy Pounds, Ron Samuels and others should ask themselves why they supported Mayor Frey and former Chief Arradondo regarding Question Two last November, which was to reduce the presence of the police in non-police matters. The slim majority of voters in Minneapolis should ask themselves why they gave Frey more power, including almost exclusive control of the Mpls police, on Question One lat November. Has crime gone away now because the Mpls police are getting more officers? No. It is all a sham to protect the Democratic Party, Frey, police methods and the continuation of poverty. Frey should resign and so should this new useless Huffman.

  7. White america should be thankful……..
    Cops are quick to pull the trigger……
    Blacks are…….
    Mexicans are……..
    I remember Reggie White’s unfortunate comments in front of the Wisconsin legislature.
    I prefer a more nuanced view.
    I am so sick and tired of seeing people killed by police for no reason whatsoever.
    This young man felt that he need to have a gun to protect himself, so he could make deliveries?
    It’s all insanity to me.
    A battalion of heavily armed, armored cops, are afraid of serving a warrant?
    I’m a sheltered schmuck, who has never lived in the “big city”, by choice.
    Didn’t prevent my wife from being robbed at gunpoint, years ago.
    I have been similarly situated as this young homicide victim.
    In my experience no knock warrant or not, the “troops” kick the door down, and lie, and claimed that they knocked, and rang the bell, but no one answered.
    Total BS.
    Bottom line is, I’m still here to make this comment, and this young man is dead, and his loved ones are devastated.
    In my own way, I’m devastated by his death, also.
    And, sadly, just waiting for the next such tragedy.
    Standing alone, and challenging police violence, got my extra prison time.
    I wish that I could say that there is strength in numbers, but in spite of the reaction to George Floyd’s killing, here we are.
    I continue to make a plea to my fellow travelers on this sphere, in the US particularly.
    Take the rest of the month off work.
    Go to the library.
    Study black history, or Mexican history, or the history of the peoples indigenous to North America.
    Or, study John Coletrane, or Junior Hendrix, or Carlos Santana.
    I like the band Blackfoot.
    Just show up.
    I go to the library, every day.
    I keep hoping to find it crowded.
    Men, with skin colored differently than mine, hurt me real bad on a couple of occasions.
    But, people with skin colored similarly to mine, have hurt me also.
    Maybe not as severely, but does that matter, if I’m still alive?
    I think of South Africa, and truth and reconciliation.
    I’m tired of being angry.
    See you at the library.

      1. Thank you for that, Paul.
        I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to cost a damn thing to be kind.
        I believe that it grows the kind of wealth that dollars can’t buy.
        I wish for you an abundance of laughter and smiles.

  8. Don’t let them orchestrate the outrage. The police state is coming for us all. (See, for example, the work of John Whitehead and the Rutherford Institute.)

  9. MPD interim chief Amelia Huffman had claimed that Amir was pointing his gun towards police, and that officers “loudly and repeatedly announced ‘police search warrant’ before crossing the threshold into the apartment.” Recently released body camera footage, however, proved both claims to be false.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    RECENTLY RELEASED BODY CAMERA FOOTAGE, HOWEVER, PROVED BOTH CLAIMS TO BE FALSE.

    Standard operating procedure.
    One may not lie when testifying before congress, on pains of prosecution. How ’bout a bit of reciprocity? Should it not then follow that congress-persons (not so different from corporate-persons, I’m afraid) must not lie to the public?
    In the same vein, if it’s a crime to lie to law enforcement, then it really ought to be a crime for law enforcement to lie to the public.

    Ah, but sources and methods. The good old, sacred sources and methods… except these are the very realms in which law enforcement and Intelligence have the foremost occasion to go rogue, wild and criminal, as well as the grounds on which most cases are decided in terms of innocence and guilt.

    Further, if you’re interested in doing good and doing right, and making a credible practice of it, you have no need to lie… whatsoever. If you have any respect at all for reality – because reality is the sole basis on which good and rational decisions can be made – the lie must be anathema.
    Assess our current state – how many good and rational decisions are coming out of our representatives and ‘serve and protectors?’ Sore few, for me.
    The lie may get you through the night, the next days or weeks, or years. But it’s the same as with dumbing us down. One day we’re going to have a grave need for clear and realistic vision, another day we’re going to wish we had a responsible, realistic, competent citizenry. And we’ll come up craps.

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