Sharpton: Without a warrant, Locke would be alive

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Reverend Al Sharpton told hundreds of people gathered for Amir Locke’s funeral Thursday that the 22-year-old black man would still be alive if Minneapolis had banned no-knock warrants.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Reverend Al Sharpton told hundreds of people gathered for Amir Locke’s funeral Thursday that the 22-year-old black man would still be alive if Minneapolis had banned no-knock warrants.

Sharpton was among several speakers who paid tribute to Locke and other black people who died in encounters with police. In addition to song and prayer, the service at Shiloh Temple International Ministries included strong condemnations of racism in the police and outright calls for change.

“Amir was guilty of nothing but being young and black in America,” Sharpton said. He said if Minneapolis had banned no-knock warrants “we wouldn’t be at a funeral this morning.”

Sharpton also noted that February is Black History Month and he spoke about the history of slavery, detailing how slaves had their names taken away and were forced to take their masters’ names. He said black people have too long been viewed as “nameless suspects.”

“That’s enough. We’re not going to be your anonymous suspects anymore,” Sharpton said, to cheers from the crowd.

Earlier in the service, those attending the funeral were asked to “say his name.” They answered: “Amir Locke”.

Locke’s aunt, Linda Tyler, spoke out against racism in the police and demanded that officers stop talking about the need for additional training and instead start using de-escalation techniques on whites and blacks.

“If it’s something you just can’t do, we’re just asking you to quit today instead of quitting another sibling at their grave,” she said. She also said she didn’t want to hear about how hard policing is.

“If you think being a police officer is a difficult profession, try being a black man,” she said, to cheers from the crowd.

A large portrait of Locke was displayed in the front of the church, with a white coffin topped with roses and bouquets of flowers nearby. Minnesota Democratic Governor Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter were among those present.

Locke’s death caused an outcry over no-knock warrants, with pressure from his family and others to ban them in Minnesota and beyond.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has come under scrutiny for the city’s use of such warrants, and Acting Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman were not present. Shiloh Temple Bishop Richard Howell Jr. told the Star Tribune before the service that Frey would not attend without the family’s invitation.

As the service began, hundreds sang the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before Howell led the church in prayer. Members of the Grammy Award-winning group Sounds of Blackness also performed. Later, they sang their song “Black Lives Matter”.

The service was held at the same church where Daunte Wright is remembered after he was killed by a suburban Minneapolis police officer in April. Sharpton, while presiding over Wright’s funeral, denounced “the stench of police brutality”.

Locke was shot by a SWAT team member shortly before 7 a.m. on Feb. 2 while officers were serving a no-hit search warrant in a St. Paul homicide case. Body camera video shows at least four officers using a key to sneak into the downtown apartment where he was staying, then shouting their presence. The video shows Locke, wrapped in a duvet, fidgeting and holding a handgun just before an officer shoots him.

Locke was not named in the warrant and did not live in the apartment. Family members called his killing an “execution”, noting that the video shows an officer kicking the couch and suggested Locke jolted awake and was disoriented. They also pushed back at police saying Locke was shot after pointing his gun at officers.

Frey has placed a moratorium on those terms while the city reviews its policy. The State Bureau of Criminal Arrest is investigating Locke’s shooting.

During the funeral, the House Public Safety Committee heard legislation that would severely limit the use of no-knock warrants.

The bill, drafted by Rep. Athena Hollins of St. Paul, only allows such warrants in a handful of urgent circumstances, such as kidnapping and human trafficking. This goes further than measures passed last year, which made it harder for officers to apply for no-knock warrants.

Last year’s legislation requires applications for no-knock warrants to be approved by a law enforcement official and another supervisor. It also requires officers to state whether the warrant can be executed during the day and explain why officers cannot detain a suspect or search a residence by other means.

Several activists who testified in support of the new bill urged lawmakers to pass it, calling last year’s legislation a “watered down” version of what the state needs. When asked if they had spoken with any Senate Republicans, they shook their heads no.

“They congratulated each other and said they had passed police accountability bills,” civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong said. “It’s really laughable, it’s an insult to our intelligence and now another black family has lost their son, their nephew, their cousin, a member of our community to the senseless use of a warrant. strike ban.”

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Find full AP coverage of Amir Locke’s death at: https://apnews.com/hub/amir-locke

Mohamed Ibrahim and Amy Forliti, The Associated Press
































































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