The city of Minneapolis has implemented a moratorium on no-knock warrants, while the family of Amir Locke and hundreds of others mourn the young Black man who was fatally shot by police.
Locke was only 22 years old when a Minneapolis SWAT team burst into an apartment where he was sleeping on a couch, and shot and killed him Feb 2. On Thursday, his parents laid their beloved son to rest, becoming another Black family to say goodbye to a young man who lost his life when he was gunned down by those who took an oath to protect and serve. His father called for 22 days of peace in honor of his son, for each year of his life before it was cut short.
Looking at a young person’s body in a casket, and watching grief-stricken parents, siblings and loved ones break down over such a tremendous loss is difficult to do; it stays with you forever.
Among the hundreds gathered at Locke's funeral were family members of George Floyd and Botham Jean, two other Black men killed by police. Locke's mother, Karen Wells, addressed law enforcement, saying, "Chief of police, Mayor [Jacob] Frey and members of the SWAT team in Minneapolis... before you go to bed tonight I want you to see his face."
Locke's aunt, Linda Tyler, pleaded for police reform such as deescalation tactics. “If it is something you simply cannot do, we just ask that you resign today instead of resigning another brother or sister to her grave,” she said.
Locke had a gun, which he was legally licensed to carry, and body camera footage does not show that it was pointing at the officer when the officer fired, or that Locke was aware that police had entered the apartment. Locke's horrendous death is yet another in a long line of police killings across the country that continue to devastate and traumatize our community and the nation.
When Locke’s parents joined me on “PoliticsNation” and asked me to officiate his funeral and deliver the eulogy, I did not hesitate to say yes. I am always humbled and honored when families ask me to speak and help ease their suffering during such a difficult time. But it never gets any easier.
Looking at a young person’s body in a casket, and watching grief-stricken parents, siblings and loved ones break down over such a tremendous loss are difficult to do; it stays with you forever. These deaths should never have occurred, and police reform must be implemented at the national level on down if we are to ever put an end to such institutionalized behaviors and protect all of our children.
According to Mapping Police Violence, police killed 1,134 people in 2021 alone. The organization’s data indicates that Black people are 2.9 times more likely than white people to be killed by police. This is simply inexcusable. A society cannot be deemed civilized and functional when its law enforcement is taking the lives of more than 1,000 of its own citizens year after year after year.
A society cannot be deemed civilized and functional when law enforcement is taking the lives of over 1,000 of its own citizens year after year after year.
President Joe Biden indicated that he plans to sign executive actions on police reform in the near future — a first step that we urgently need. We must eliminate practices such as no-knock warrants and police chokeholds, and ensure that body cameras are standard policies in every single police department across the country.
We need a national database logging police officer misconduct, so that officers cannot simply relocate to a new state or a new jurisdiction and be given a badge and a gun. We must invest in community policing and social services so that police are not the first — or the only — ones to arrive at the scene. And we cannot continue to allow society to view our young men and women as a constant threat; our lives must be valued as equally as that of others.
When Locke’s parents spoke with me, they emphasized the fact that their son was raised with morals and values, that he was respectful and that he loved his family and friends. His mother said she will stand and make her voice heard so that no other family experiences the heartache and devastation that they have gone through. She said she plans to tirelessly tell his story and fight for justice.
It’s a story that no one should have to tell. But we will not stop until everyone is able to sleep on the couch without worrying about being executed by police.