24 February 2022
From fathers to activists and artists, dozens of Black men gathered in Minneapolis City Hall Thursday to decry the latest police killing of one of their own.
They were there to demand justice for the killing of Amir Locke, the 22-year-old Black man fatally shot during an no-knock search warrant operation this month. Locke was not the subject of the warrant.
“I am a man!” they chanted, referencing the famous civil rights declaration. “I am a Black man!”
Together the men called for the firing of all officers involved in the warrant operation and either the resignation or firing of interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman. They asked that Mayor Jacob Frey release all video and audio pertaining to the operation, in addition to the previously released 55-second video that shows officers storming into the apartment during the predawn raid and, within nine seconds, shooting Locke, who was under a blanket and could be seen with a gun in his right hand.
“We want to be treated fairly and equally,” said Trahern Crews, an organizer for Black Lives Matter Minnesota. “We want our children to stop being attacked by the police in the state of Minnesota.”
Their demands echoed those of protestors who have taken to Minneapolis streets in recent weeks and those of a coalition of Black women and mothers that met at City Hall on Feb. 9 to condemn the leadership of Frey and Huffman.
“Minneapolis’ Black residents have experienced a disproportionate amount of violence in our city,” Frey said in a statement following Thursday’s news conference. “While that grief is felt across the community, it is felt most acutely by the families and parents who have lost loved ones. The fathers who stood up today are right to speak out. At this time, I am prohibited from discussing personnel matters as the BCA investigation is active and underway.”
The men were joined by Philonise Floyd and Brandon Williams, George Floyd’s brother and nephew. They were there just hours before the verdict announcement in the federal case against three former Minneapolis police officers found guilty of federal civil rights charges in Floyd’s death.
“Every time I come to Minnesota, it’s always a problem,” Floyd said, reflecting on the police killings of Daunte Wright and Locke that occurred respectively during the murder trial of Derek Chauvin and the civil rights trial.
“I’m not asking you to abolish the system; I’m asking you to change the system,” he added. “And I want everybody to understand this: If you all can make federal laws to protect the bird, which is the bald eagle, then you can make federal laws to protect people of color.”
He and Williams emphasized that a federal passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which seeks to restrict the use of no-knock warrants and increase discipline for officer misconduct, would lead to greater accountability for the Minneapolis Police Department. They joined other speakers in calling for a permanent extension of the city’s suspension on no-knock warrants that went into effect after Locke’s killing.
Williams also said the two-year prison sentence for Kimberly Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer who shot Wright, was a lack of proper accountability.
“Are we wrong for being angry if we are angry?” he asked.
Marques Armstrong, president of Hope & Healing Counseling Services and one of the news conference’s organizers, said though each act of violence on the Black community leads to deep hurt, he’s excited by how Black men are using that pain to demand justice.
“We’re coming together to unify, but we’re building each other up spiritually, mentally and physically so that we can show up as whole, healthy men,” he said. “And before long, you’re going to see an entire community of men who are standing like that.”