By Jakyies Evans
“Say their names.” It’s a statement we have used for too long .
Last year I wrote a story about the Breonna Taylor shooting that took place in Louisville in the spring of 2020. A similar situation recently occurred in Minneapolis. On February 2 Amir Locke was fatally shot by Minneapolis police officer Mark Hannamen.
Locke was a city councilmember. He and fellow councilman Jeremiah Ellison were big voices for the neighborhoods in Ward 5. Locke was shot in a no-knock warrant raid issued by the Minneapolis Police Department. This raid was in relation to a homicide in the twin city of St. Paul. According to the Washington Post the police were looking for Locke’s 17-year-old cousin and two others. Locke himself wasn’t named in the warrant.
At 7am the body camera footage of one of the officers shows officers slowly opening the door to the apartment Locke is staying in. It’s not Locke’s apartment–the place is owned by the girlfriend of Locke’s older brother, Mekhi Speed. The footage shows the police enter quietly with bright lights, then immediately announce themselves loudly. Locke appears to be covered up on the couch sleeping. He is startled when the police announce themselves. Upon waking, Locke is seen holding a gun, which prompts officer Hannamen to shoot three times.
Two bullets hit Locke’s chest. The other hits him in the wrist.
During the aftermath of this incident police Chief Amelia Huffman stated “Officers had loudly and repeatedly announced police search warrants before crossing the threshold into the apartment.” But the Body Camera Footage and later statements prove that to be false. The police quietly entered the apartment, then shouted to announce their presence at a man who was sleeping at seven o’ clock in the morning, startling him and giving little time to react to, much less comprehend, what was going on. Even the gun they claimed to be pointing at an officer appears to be pointing at the floor.
As a result of that misunderstanding, there was another meeting in which Huffman defends her claim and wants the public to “make their own assessment.“
The blatant disregard and delusion is appalling. It’s right there on video and yet she still defends her statements and the actions of her officers.
This comes after reiterating that Locke was a suspect after their initial claim did not identify him in their current investigation, blaming the claim of locke being a suspect as “misinformation.” All of this contributed to the dispute between the public and the Minneapolis police department over whether the department handled this poorly. Some have blamed Mayor Jacob Frey for his part in this since a big part of his reelection campaign in the wake of George floyd was that the city bans no knock warrants. But a look at the Police revisions Frey made, shows that fancy language allows police to still use no knock warrants.
Frey has apologized and said the “language became more casual.” But in reality, it was toothless from the start. “This was not a ban on no-knock warrants,” Rachel Moran, a professor at The University of St Thomas, who studies police accountability said during an informational meeting with the city council members. “It, in fact, did not affect the knock requirement at all.”
Frey later answered questions, including some about his new moratorium that temporarily suspends requesting and executing no-knock warrants. And Moran again reminded the city council that it isn’t a total ban. There’s an exception for circumstances where this is an “imminent threat of harm” and the warrant is subsequently approved by the police chief.
Frey acknowledged that he had been misleading on changes made last fall.“Language became more casual, including my own, which did not reflect the necessary precision or nuance. And I own that,” Frey stated.
After yet another tragic incident, The officers in question face no charges. The case was reviewed and overseen by Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison, who overviewed the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with killing George Floyd.
Attorney General Keith Ellison and Attorney Mike Freeman, said there was “insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges.” while other officers such as Sgt. John Sysaath, a Minneapolis SWAT officer who was first to enter the apartment, claimed in a written statement to investigators that “Locke was engaged in evasive movements and did not comply with verbal commands.” Sysaath also stated that he saw Locke raise the barrel of his gun toward Hanneman and “believed that Mr. Locke intended to use the firearm to harm Officer Hanneman or the SWAT team.” From what we see from the footage provided this statement is just blatantly not true , with no video evidence to support his or any of the officers involved claims.
Is life equal to administrative leave? Are the lives of officers worth more than the ones they are sworn to protect ? There will be signs, t-shirts, reposts, and no real change. And this isn’t the fault of just Hanneman, Huffman, or Frey. This is a fault of the system and every cog that twists and turns to keep it the way it is: outdated, cruel, and unjust.
I’m writing this because it’s been two years since the George floyd and Breonna Taylor incidents that sparked BLM and other movements. In two years there has been little to no effort actually put behind changing things. As a result in the same city a innocent black man died after so called change was made. And all he receives is a weak apology from a condescending department.
No real change has been made. The yard signs, hashtags and t-shirts weren’t enough.
We have to do more.
Advocates and allies in Minnesota, my hometown of Durham, NC, and everywhere else have to call out and to fight to change the system we live in so we can stop adding names to the list of lives lost to statistics. We will continue to say their names. Names like Breonna Taylor, Deonte Wight, Amir Locke, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and Trayvon Martin, who was killed over 10 years ago when I was just 7 years old, until Black lives really do matter.