News ID: 99755
Publish Date : 06 February 2022 - 21:36
Racial Unrest Hits Minneapolis

Police ‘Execution’ of Black Man in U.S.

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters/AP) —Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of downtown Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon to demand accountability from police after a 22-year-old Black man was shot dead earlier last week by officers serving a no-knock search warrant that had nothing to do with him.
Between 200 and 300 demonstrators turned out for the protest, which began at the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza and saw protesters march to the Minneapolis Police Department’s 1st Precinct headquarters. Many in the crowd held up signs calling for the ouster of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey: “Frey lied, Amir died,” the signs read, referring to Amir Locke, the man whose death at the hands of police officers has been dubbed an “execution.”
Locke was asleep underneath a blanket on a couch in a Minneapolis apartment just before 7 a.m. Wednesday morning when a SWAT team burst in, yelling, “Search warrant.” Locke, clearly startled in body-cam footage of the incident, was shot dead within seconds after officers saw a firearm in his hand. His family has said he was entirely within his rights to have the firearm, as he had a concealed carry permit. He had the gun for protection for when he worked as a food delivery driver in the city, relatives told the AP.
Authorities say he was not a target of the no-knock search warrant officers were serving, which was issued as part of a homicide investigation in Saint Paul.
The killing has left his family and activists angry and questioning the credibility of a department that was widely criticized for its initial portrayal of George Floyd’s death.
Activists were angered at a police department statement that evening that called Locke a “suspect” — even though police later said a search warrant didn’t name Locke as such. They questioned the same statement for saying the gun was “pointed in the direction of officers” when police body camera video was less than clear. They denounced police for releasing photos of a gun and bullets, calling that a character assassination of Locke, who they said had a license for the gun.
And they highlighted an officer kicking the couch just seconds after entry, which they said likely awoke a deep-sleeping Locke to a confusing assault from men with guns. His parents, Andre Locke and Karen Wells, called it an “execution.”
The department took similar criticism for its initial representation of Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, when its first statement said Floyd died after a “medical incident during a police interaction.”
Bystander video quickly told another story — Floyd died while facedown in handcuffs with a police officer’s knee on his neck — and a spokesman said then that the first report relied on a briefing from supervisors who weren’t on the scene.
After the body camera video showing the Locke shooting was released Thursday night, activists angrily confronted Mayor Frey and Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman at a news conference.
“This is what I would call the anatomy of a cover-up,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a prominent civil rights attorney whom Frey appointed last year to a community safety work group. “This is unacceptable.”
On Friday, Locke’s aunt, Linda Tyler, attacked parts of the initial police statement.
“He didn’t point the gun,” she told reporters in a news conference at City Hall. “So change the narrative. You guys need to get the story right. You will not smear my nephew’s name.”
Locke’s uncle, Andrew Tyler, said officers clearly startled Locke awake when they kicked the couch.
“You can’t kick nothing under me and then expect me to act right,” Tyler said. “What are you looking for? You’re looking to incite someone, you’re looking for a reaction. Not only are you looking for a reaction, you’re looking for time to kill. That’s what he did.”
Tyler also dismissed the police warnings, saying they were already effectively inside the apartment when they shouted out.
“It’s a lie,” he said. “It’s a lie from the get-go.”
Mistrust within the Black community of the police department goes back well beyond Floyd’s death. The unrest that followed the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 fueled the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was behind protests that followed the 2015 police killing of Jamar Clark, including an 18-day siege at the police station on the heavily Black north side of Minneapolis.
Other police killings of Black men followed in Minnesota, including the deaths of Philando Castile in 2016 and Daunte Wright last year.