MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton told the hundreds gathered Thursday for the funeral for Amir Locke that the 22-year-old Black man who was shot by Minneapolis police as they served a no-knock search warrant had done nothing wrong.
“Amir was not guilty of anything but being young and Black in America,” Sharpton said.
Other speakers at Locke’s funeral at Shiloh Temple International Ministries condemned police for the events that led to Locke’s killing, as they remembered Locke and other Black people who have died in encounters with police.
Sharpton said if Minneapolis had passed a ban on no-knock warrants “we wouldn’t be at a funeral this morning.”
Sharpton also referenced Black History Month and talked about slavery, detailing how slaves had their names taken away from them and were forced to take the names of their masters. He said Black people for too long have been seen as “nameless suspects.”
“Enough is enough. We are no longer going to be your nameless suspects,” Sharpton said, as the crowed applauded.
Before Sharpton spoke, congregants were prompted to “Say his name.” They responded: “Amir Locke.”
Locke’s aunt, Linda Tyler, denounced racism in policing and demanded that officers stop talking about the need for more training, and instead start using de-escalation techniques on white and Black people alike.
“If it is something you simply cannot do, we just ask that you resign today instead of resigning another brother or sister to her grave,” she said. She also said she doesn’t want to hear about how policing is a difficult job.
“If you think being a police officer is a difficult profession, try to be a Black man,” she said, as the crowd erupted in cheers.
A large portrait of Locke was displayed at the front of the church, with a white casket topped with roses and bouquets of flowers nearby. Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter were among those in attendance.
Locke’s death has provoked an outcry against no-knock warrants, with a push by 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 Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman did not attend. Shiloh Temple Bishop Richard Howell Jr. told the Star Tribune that Frey would not attend without an invitation from the family.
As the service began, hundreds of people 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.
The service was held in the same church where Daunte Wright was remembered after he was killed by a suburban Minneapolis police officer in April. Sharpton, while presiding over Wright’s funeral, decried “the stench of police brutality.”
Locke was shot by a SWAT team member shortly before 7 a.m. on Feb. 2 as officers served a search warrant in a St. Paul homicide case. Body camera video shows at least four officers using a key to quietly enter the downtown apartment where he was staying, then shouting their presence. The video shows Locke, wrapped in a comforter, stirring and holding a handgun right before an officer shot him.
Locke wasn’t named in the warrant and did not live at the apartment. Family members called his killing an “execution,” noting the video shows an officer kicking the sofa, and suggested Locke was startled awake and disoriented. They have also pushed back against police saying Locke was shot after he pointed his gun at officers.