Protesters march to demand charges for police officer who shot Amir Locke

Photo by Cole Miska Protesters returning to the Hennepin County Govt Center in downtown Minneapolis.

Around 70 people gathered Friday afternoon on the south lawn of the Hennepin County Government Center to protest the decision by prosecutors not to file charges against Minneapolis Police (MPD) Officer Mark Hanneman in the fatal shooting of Amir Locke.

Toshira Garraway Allen, who founded Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, hosted the march and introduced the speakers, most of whom have had a loved one killed by police.

Jason Heisler, whose autistic son Kobe Heisler was shot by Brooklyn Center police in 2019, gave a speech to show his support to the other families. “Amir Locke should be alive, Winston Smith should be celebrating his birthday, and this officer, Mike Hanneman, should be fired,” Heisler said. “The SWAT team he works with should be fired; the whole police department should be fired. They’re reckless.”

Several members of Leneal Frazier’s family also attended the march. Frazier, who was an innocent bystander, was killed last year when his vehicle was rammed by a State Patrol squad car that was engaged in a high-speed chase in North Minneapolis. Frazier was the uncle of Darnella Frazier, one of the bystanders who recorded the murder of George Floyd.

The planned marching route was modified due to safety concerns for a smaller group. The march departed west on South 7th Street and eventually returned to the Hennepin County Government Center.

Trahern Crews, who founded Black Lives Matter Minnesota, helped organize the gathering. Crews said he was “hopeful” that charges could still be filed against Hanneman. Crews noted that the federal government could still charge the officer, even though the State has declined to do so.

“We’re gonna continue to stay in the streets and advocate for an independent investigation into any police-related shooting that resulted in death in the last 25 years,” Crews said. “There has to be an overhaul of law enforcement in Minnesota after what happened to Amir Locke, Winston Smith, Daunte Wright.”

He added, “It doesn’t always happen right away, but I think even the residents of Minnesota are starting to expect justice.”

Garraway Allen said that filing charges against officer Hanneman would be “the right thing to do,” and noted her disappointment that Hanneman was still on the police force.

“In a way, I’m hopeful [charges will be brought] but in another way I’m not,” Garraway Allen said. “We got people sitting in the political seats not listening to the community. We need to sit down; we need to have conversations.”

Garraway Allen said Republican senators were standing in the way of change, noting that she had tried to have meetings with them but had been rebuffed. “We got people that’s in the political seats that don’t have to live with their decisions, making decisions for the inner city,” Garraway Allen said. “That’s why they don’t want to listen to us, this is not their reality. They don’t have to live through this.”

Minnesota Justice Coalition President Johnathon McClellan also works with the legislature on police reform. He said obstacles to police reform are not limited to Republican senators.

“To say that this is a Democrat or Republican problem would be inaccurate,” McClellan said. “This is a problem with special interests interfering in our process to hold the system accountable.”

Garraway Allen said she fears that the Twin Cities will have another wave of unrest like what occurred following the murder of George Floyd if the current policing situation continues. She stressed that she hopes to change the system through the legislative process and does not want any further unrest in Minneapolis, but it seems inevitable if that is the only way charges will be brought against officers who kill civilians.

“It shouldn’t have to lead to [unrest] for people to do the right thing, but we’re facing that again,” Garraway Allen said. “Because they’re refusing to do right by these families and they’re refusing to do right by human beings.”