Black mothers, women press for accountability in police killing of Amir Locke

Photo by Cole Miska Nekima Levy Armstrong speaking at the press conference

The Racial Justice Network (RJN) held a press conference at Minneapolis City Hall on Monday afternoon to call for accountability from the City of Minneapolis for the killing of Amir Locke. Locke, who had no criminal record and was not wanted by police, was killed in an early morning raid by Minneapolis police officer Mark Hanneman on Feb. 2.

RJN gathered over a dozen speakers all of whom were Black women or Black mothers. Two of Locke’s family members—his cousin Nneka Constantino, and his aunt Neka Gray—spoke at the conference.

Constantino mentioned that Locke was a legal holder of a permit to carry a pistol. She said that she believed that if her cousin was White, he would have been told to drop his weapon, and would still be alive.

Constantino asked all parents with children who held a permit to carry a pistol to imagine their children in Locke’s position. “We ask the parents of people with firearms…to stand with us and say that the second amendment is for Black people too,” Constantino said.

Locke’s aunt Gray spoke for just over one minute and called for a ban on no-knock warrants. “Unfortunately, Amir won’t benefit from [banning no-knock warrants], but the next person will. Unfortunately, we don’t get to hug him, and love on him, and see him live out his dreams, but the next family can. And they can do it in his name,” Gray said.

Photo by Cole Miska

Several speakers called for the resignation of Mayor Jacob Frey and Interim MPD Chief Amelia Huffman. There were also calls for no-knock warrants to be banned and the firing of judges that had previously signed no-knock warrants.

Speakers invited Black women observing the press conference to join the group behind the microphone, with speaker Deborah Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, asking all women behind the microphone to lock arms in solidarity.

The speeches were closed out with a prayer by Pastor Jessica Jackson of Impact Living Christian Center. As the conference ended, attendees and speakers chanted “Say his name, Amir Locke!” and “Justice for Amir Locke!”

The office of Mayor Jacob Frey did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cole Miska welcomes reader responses to Cole.Miska@my.smsu.edu.