Over a thousand elementary, middle, and high school students from schools throughout the metro area gathered at Central High School on Feb. 8 for a school walkout in support of justice for Amir Locke, who was killed by Minneapolis police in a no-knock raid on Feb. 2.
Central, Johnson, South, Southwest, Como, Washburn, Hyland Park, Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Capitol Hill Magnet, and schools from Coon Rapids, Golden Valley, Saint Lewis Park, and Hopkins were a few of the dozens of schools that had students in attendance.
The students met at Central High at noon. After a few brief speeches, the group departed on the approximately three-quarter mile march to the Governor’s Mansion on Summit Avenue.
Central High’s administration was aware of the walk-out in advance and was fully in support of the event. Assistant Principal Gene Ward Jr. stood with students as they gathered on the school’s campus.
“We want to make sure that we’re supporting students at every step,” Ward said. “They’re out here just exercising their first amendment rights. So as long as they’re doing it peacefully, we’re definitely in support.”
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Ward estimated approximately 50% of Central High’s student body was attending the walkout. Classes were still taking place for students that chose not to attend the walk-out. “Everyone has their own different way of participating,” Ward said regarding the students who did not attend the walkout.
Students departed Central High’s campus at about 12:35 pm and began the three-quarter-mile march to the Minnesota Governor’s Residence on Summit Avenue, arriving just before 1 pm.
Ayres, who declined to give their last name, was a senior from Breck School in Golden Valley who made the trek to the Governor’s Mansion.
“[Breck School] is a private school, so I think a lot of people think that they’re immune to doing things like this because of the privilege that we have,” Ayres said. “I think it’s important to show ‘this may not necessarily be in my neighborhood, but it’s still something that I care about in the state that I live in,’ and showing that it’s relevant to everyone.“
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Charlotte May, a middle-schooler from Capitol Hill Magnet, mentioned she would like to see a ban of no-knock warrants and for police to not use force deadly force where it is not necessary.
“Innocent Black men shouldn’t be normal anymore,” May said. “It shouldn’t be a thing, because they are innocent and deserve to live, and not be killed by the people who are supposed to protect them.”
Students played music, danced, and talked as the rally arrived at the Governor’s Mansion. Speakers climbed onto a sound truck parked next to the house’s gate. Speakers included organizers of the walkout and students from several high schools.
Ezra Hudson, a St Louis Park senior and co-founder of Minnesota Teen Activists, was one of the first to speak at the mansion. “We have to keep going—we can never stop. If we stop, they’re gonna keep killing us, simple as that. We have to show them that we care; we have to show them that we matter because obviously, they don’t believe it.”
The students remained in front of the mansion until about 2:15 pm when the group did a march back to Central High.
Astrid Rubens, a junior at Central High, stayed at the protest until the end. Rubens listed banning no-knock warrants, defunding the police, and those in power protecting Black lives as changes they wanted to see.
After the rally, the pickup truck that was used to transport the sound system separated from the main body of the protest and pulled into a parking lot. Ramsey County State Patrol officers approached the vehicle and alleged that protest organizers had violated a St. Paul noise ordinance. A citation was issued.
The Office of Governor Tim Walz did not immediately respond to requests for comment.