Photo credit: A protest in Minneapolis on Saturday for Amir Locke (Source: Unicorn Riot)
By Michael Nolan
In the early morning of February 2, 22-year-old Amir Locke was murdered by Minneapolis police, who stormed into the apartment where he was sleeping and killed him within nine seconds of opening the door. The officers were serving a no-knock warrant that Locke was not named in. Since Friday evening, thousands of protesters have marched in the streets to denounce the killing and call for the prosecution of the officers involved in the raid, particularly Mark Hanneman, the officer who killed Locke, as well as demanding the removal of Mayor Jacob Frey.
Protests began last Friday evening with a caravan of roughly 50 cars and protesters who gathered outside the home of interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman, calling for her resignation and chanting the names of Locke and Breonna Taylor, who was killed in a no-knock raid in Louisville in March 2020. By Saturday, thousands marched in the freezing cold behind a banner reading “Justice for Amir Locke and all stolen lives,” demanding the removal of Huffman and Frey along with the prosecution of Hanneman.
In multiple protests, Locke’s name has been spray painted on buildings, including on the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) 1st Precinct. On Tuesday, thousands of high school students walked out of class throughout the twin cities to voice the same demands.
“Why do you think Derek Chauvin is inside a jail cell right now?” one protester asked the crowd on Saturday, “The reason why is because we burnt down that fucking precinct! No amount of peaceful protest will get us to justice! You’ll hear from folks who speak of peaceful marches, folks who are part of liberal nonprofits who call themselves celebrity activists, even some of them who work for the city themselves. Some of these folks will try and control your anger. But I’m asking you, I’m pleading with you: feel your anger fully. Be mad. Be mad!”
The night they murdered Locke, officers quietly entered his apartment with a key provided by the landlord and began to shout multiple commands as one officer kicked the couch Locke was sleeping on. MPD’s narrative of the murder focuses on a hand gun Locke legally possessed and grabbed as he was startled awake. Attorney for the family, Ben Crump, said at a press conference on Friday that “The Minneapolis Police Department released a police report that was erroneous, [that] we can only conclude was trying to assassinate the character of Amir Locke to try to justify their unjustifiable act.”
Andre Locke, Locke’s father, said a family member in federal law enforcement guided Locke in the process of acquiring a gun permit. He said Locke, who was a driver for DoorDash, was concerned about defending himself from carjackings.
St. Paul police originally acquired a knock-and-announce warrant, but Minneapolis police, who were to execute the warrant, refused to execute it until a no-knock warrant was issued. The no-knock warrant was issued by Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the conviction of Officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd. Another attorney representing the Locke Family, Jeff Storms, said, “to the best of our knowledge, it is not a warrant for the arrest or seizure of a person, this was a warrant for property, which makes it even more difficult to understand why they would execute such a high risk warrant, with such an increased likelihood for death or other serious harm.”
The SWAT team that invaded the apartment included officers Nathan Sundberg and Kristopher Dauble, who are currently being sued for firing 40mm marking rounds at citizens from a moving, unmarked cargo van in the days following George Floyd’s murder.
In November 2020, under pressure from the May Uprisings in response to MPD’s murder of George Floyd, Minneapolis police announced restrictions on no-knock warrants. During a press conference Friday morning, Storms said, “the way they presented it… you would have believed that the city banned no knock warrants. And we found out obviously that that’s not true.”
Locke was sleeping on his cousin’s couch and was a week away from moving to Dallas to be closer to his mother, Karen Locke, who was supporting him in starting a business in music. Mrs. Locke said in the Friday press conference: “I helped him purchase his business LLC. He had a logo that caters to the youth. Amir was all about changing the world, changing and aiding the youth, anything they needed.”
She continued, “I’m going to miss just being able to see my son grow into a man, that’s what I’m going to miss. I’m going to miss that he didn’t even get the chance to become a father, and give us grandchildren.”
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