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Amir Locke, 22, was shot and killed last week by Minneapolis police officers who were executing an early morning “no-knock” warrant to search an apartment. The warrant was in connection to a homicide investigation in St. Paul. Locke was staying at the apartment but was not named on the warrant.
Last year, incumbent Minneapolis Mayoral Candidate Jacob Frey campaigned that he’d ban the use of “no-knock” search warrants by city police. However, since Amir’s murder, Frey’s attempted to clarify how this could have happened under his watch.
“Throughout a campaign, and certainly as more and more outside groups began weighing in, language became more casual, including my own.” The mayor continued, “which did not reflect the necessary precision or nuance. And I own that.”
Later at a primetime February 4th meltdown of a press conference, both Mayor Frey and Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman regurgitated familiar post-Black shooting talking points, however, the community was not having it.
After restating promises for internal investigations, transparency and building community trust, Huffman later detailed the accounts of Amir Locke’s murder.
While being peppered with direct questions, Huffman stated that their policies would be reviewed and St. Paul’s jurisdiction would be communicated with in an effort to bring transparency to the case. Shortly after, she was grilled for the contradictions in her own description of that night’s events only one day prior.
As Huffman nervously stammered through questions, attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong injected herself in the failing presser. As co-chair of the’ newly established Commission on Community Safety, Armstong demanded better.
She spoke truth to power and let them know their response to yet another police-involved murder is unacceptable.
In a scathing rebuke, Armstrong let it be known, “I don’t know how you guys slept that night.”
“We cannot sit here and pretend that it’s okay.” Armstrong stated,”we are ready for change… we don’t want to see cover-up, we don’t want to see whitewashing.”
She told Mayor Frey that when the people re-elected him, there was an expectation “of a new beginning.” Armstrong stated if Huffman wanted to be Police Chief, then she should “act like it.”
“We’re tired of being killed, we’re tired of the cover-ups, we’re tired of the excuses,” said Armstrong. “People have put their lives on the line because we’re ready for change.”
As Huffman and Frey stood looking uncomfortably even behind N-95 masks, Armstrong didn’t back down. “I’m not playing. We’re not here for it. I’m only committed to working on this work group if you all are committed to being honest and transparent and not covering up the bullshit.”
Following Armstrong’s statement, Frey and Huffman attempted to take more questions but eventually ducked out abruptly.
Since Amir’s murder, Mayor Frey has instituted a full moratorium on receiving or executing any no-knock warrants, announced and unannounced, until the policy can be reviewed by external experts.
Like many Black victims of police violence, for Amir Locke, this change comes too little too late. Even still, with the support of Armstrong, accountability is being demanded in a way that it’s never been before.