In the heart of Los Angeles, California, Free My People made a powerful statement by orchestrating our inaugural grassroots protest, a fervent call for justice in the name of Amir Locke. This 22-year-old Black man, hailing from the town of Maplewood, Minnesota, and nurtured in the suburbs of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, had a promising life cut short in a tragic turn of events.
The events leading up to February 2 were a sequence of heart-wrenching circumstances. Amir Locke found himself seeking refuge at his cousin's apartment, where he rested on the couch, unaware that these would be his final moments of peace. It was here that the horrifying encounter with law enforcement would unfold.
The police were executing a search warrant linked to a homicide investigation, with Locke's 17-year-old cousin as the primary suspect. What transpired was a bureaucratic conflict of procedures: the Saint Paul Police Department had sought a "knock and announce" warrant, a method meant to provide a verbal warning before entry. However, the Minneapolis Police Department was adamant about pursuing a "no-knock" warrant, which meant they could enter without prior announcement. This difference would have profound consequences.
As the police burst through the doors with no warning, chaos ensued. Shouts of "Hands, hands!" and "Get on the ground!" reverberated in the small apartment. Amir Locke, wrapped in a blanket on the couch, awoke startled. His confusion was met with brutality as an officer kicked the couch. In a matter of seconds, Amir Locke, with his hand resting on the barrel, was shot twice in the chest and once in the wrist. The unimaginable swiftness of events left no time for comprehension or reaction.
Locke received medical attention, but despite their efforts, he was pronounced dead at Hennepin Healthcare at 7:01 a.m.
Amid the grief and outrage that followed, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey took decisive action. On February 4, he issued a moratorium on no-knock warrants, with the exception being when there is "an imminent threat of harm to an individual or the public, and then the warrant must be approved by the Chief." This exception applied to dire situations like hostage crises or extreme domestic violence cases.
Across the nation, activists like ourselves took to the streets, demanding justice for Amir Locke. Our rallying cry resonated, as we called for an immediate ban on no-knock warrants and urged swift charges against the officers involved. Free My People took the lead, organizing a poignant community healing session and rally. Here, voices from the community, organizations, and fellow activists converged to express the profound impact of witnessing such a tragic incident.
Together, we marched through the streets of Los Angeles, unified and determined, as we channeled our collective energy to bring awareness to the story of Amir Locke. Our message was clear: justice must prevail, and no more lives should be lost to such devastating circumstances.