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Minnesota: Protests follow police killing of Amir Locke

By Gabriel Pfeiffer

Minneapolis, MN – On Wednesday, February 2, a young Black man, Amir Locke, was murdered by the Minneapolis Police Department. He was shot by an officer nine seconds after entering the downtown Minneapolis apartment unit where Locke was sleeping. He was shot around 6:50 a.m.

A statement from Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J) noted, “Officers were allegedly executing a search warrant, but instead they executed a human being. According to police chief Huffman, after nine seconds, the cops ‘encountered’ the victim and fired. As with police murder of Winston Smith last summer, violent cops turned ‘executing a warrant’ into a death sentence.”

As of February 4, there have been many mobilizations in response to the murder. The next upcoming protest, initiated by TCC4J and endorsed by over a dozen groups, will be Saturday, February 5, at 3 p.m., starting at Hennepin County Government Center.

On evening of the murder, February 2, community members gathered for held a vigil outside of the apartment building where Amir Locke was killed. The Racial Justice Network, Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, CAIR-MN, TCC4J, Communities United Against Police Brutality, and a few other groups spoke to the crowd and media in bitter, below zero wind chills.

Local activists immediately demanded that authorities release the body camera footage. After a day of refusing, they released footage on Thursday night. It showed police doing a no-knock warrant, sneaking the door open, then screaming garbled gibberish before shooting Locke nine seconds later.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman held a press conference Thursday. Many activists were in the audience. Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights activist and Minneapolis attorney and founder of the Racial Justice Network, expressed frustration and anger over Amir’s murder. “Don’t cover up for what those cops did,” Levy Armstrong told Mayor Frey. “If they knew that the kid had a gun after he started waking up, say ‘drop your weapon’. They didn’t do that. One cop opened fire and took the life of a child.”

Michelle Gross, CUAPB, denounced the city of Minneapolis’ initially releasing a photo of Amir’s gun, even though he never fired it, adding in a statement, “Was this an attempt to vilify Mr. Locke, a legal gun owner with a conceal and carry permit? Was the purpose to obscure the fact that Mr. Locke had every right to defend himself against intruders?”

Audience members at the press conference asked Mayor Frey and acting Chief Huffman multiple times why Amir was listed as a suspect in Minneapolis’ initial press release (he was not a suspect) and other pointed questions about the murder. Huffman and Frey responded to by walking out of the room.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), then declared, “This is what we’ve been fighting against since George Floyd was killed. Running away from accountability and transparency.” Hussein said, “This young man did not have a chance. This was Breonna Taylor in Minneapolis.”

On Friday, February 4, the Amir Locke’s parents, Andre Locke and Karen Wells, and their attorneys, Ben Crump and Jeff Storms, held a press conference, where Wells stated, “I am going to fight, every day, throughout the day, 365 days to make sure that Amir Locke gets justice for being executed by the MPD.”

Community Control of the Police

Calls for justice have failed to prevent the deaths of Dolal Idd, Winston Smith, and now Amir Locke since George Floyd’s murder in May of 2020. Since this time, Minneapolis has seen multiple attempts by various entities to “reimagine public safety.” The November 2021 elections saw the failure of a ballot measure which would have embedded armed officers into a new Department of Public Safety. After this failure, Mayor Frey commissioned a Community Safety Workgroup to develop public safety and accountability recommendations. What these efforts lack is the power to change the MPD.

Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, along with Minneapolis for Community Control of Police (M4CCP), has been leading a campaign to amend the city charter to include the Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC), an elected body that would have authority to discipline, fire, and hire police. Coalition members have collected signatures in an effort to get the charter amendment on the ballot in Minneapolis. Community control of police efforts have seen increased support across the Midwest. to prevent murders by the police, such as Amir Locke’s killing, and other police misconduct.

#MinneapolisMN #PeoplesStruggles #PoliceBrutality #TwinCitiesCoalition4JusticeForJamarTCC4J #AmirLocke